In his first start since March 22, Lindback stopped 34 shots to lead the Lightning past the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Thursday night. It was Lindback's second win in three days. He played the final 54:17 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday after starter Ben Bishop left with an injury and stopped all 25 shots he faced in a 3-0 win.
"Every shot I get it feels like I'm getting more in the rhythm of the game," Lindback said. "You see it differently than when you only play once in a while."
Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and an assist, but coach Jon Cooper was most pleased by the play of Lindback, who has struggled with injuries and inconsistency for most of his two seasons with the Lightning.
"I've said this time and time again," Cooper said. "Ben Bishop carried the load for us and Lindback has fell victim. He fell victim again tonight with a goal going off our own stick and into the top corner. But that didn't rattle him. He has learned to turn the page and understand that he just has to make the next save. Is this a tough situation for him? I look at it as a great opportunity for him. He's seizing the moment."
The Lightning said Wednesday that Bishop will not play for the remainder of the regular season and that his status for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is uncertain.
The Lightning broke a 1-1 tie 4:33 into the third period on Richard Panik's third goal of the season and first since Dec. 19. Panik's first shot was blocked by goaltender Ray Emery, but the rebound went back to Panik and he backhanded the puck past a screened Emery.
"Panik was great tonight," Cooper said. "He was shooting pucks. He changed his game to the way we have seen him play before and we need Richard Panik to play like this."
Defenseman Eric Brewer gave Tampa Bay a two-goal lead when he pinched in, took a pass from Johnson and beat Emery from the slot at 9:43 for his second goal of the season.
"To be honest with you, I thought we were taking the play to them in the third period," Flyer coach Craig Berube said. "We made a mistake and they scored. On Brewer's goal, [Steve] Downie lost his defenseman coming in. Can't make mistakes like that."
Earlier in the period, Radko Gudas got into the crease and made two saves while Lindback was sprawled on the ice.
Neither Gudas' saves nor Palat's tip-in to his own goal escaped Lindback's notice.
"I thanked him (Gudas) as much as I thanked Ondrej Palat for a nice goal," Lindback said.
With Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell in the box for holding, Stamkos put the finishing touch on the win at 14:14 when he scored his 25th goal of the season. The goal was assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Victor Hedman. It was the second assist of the game for Hedman.
The victory moved the Lightning (44-27-9) within one point of the Montreal Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay has two games left and Montreal has one; the team that finishes second will have the home-ice advantage in their Eastern Conference First Round playoff series.
"Naturally, you like to have things in your control," Cooper said. "Sometimes you don't and sometimes you do. I suppose right now we do have things in our control. We have two games left; we have the Columbus Blue Jackets in less than 24 hours, and the Washington game [Sunday] doesn't mean anything unless we take care of Columbus. That's our focus."
The Flyers (40-31-9) saw their hopes of finishing second in the Metropolitan Division ended with their loss and the New York Rangers' 2-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres.
"If we can't catch the Rangers, then we can't catch them," Berube said. "We have to go try to win a game against Pittsburgh on Saturday."
Each team had chances in the second period before the Flyers scored 1:21 before intermission to tie the game at 1-1. With Johnson in the penalty box for tripping, Wayne Simmonds got a shot through Lindback's pads from in front of the crease. The goal was Simmonds' 27th of the season. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek assisted.
"I thought we were up today," Berube said. "I thought we competed real hard. I liked the way we played tonight. We didn't finish good enough. We had good chances and it makes a big difference if we score earlier."
Simmonds' goal came after a prolonged surge during which the Flyers buzzed the Lightning net. That was a turnaround from the first half of the period when Tampa Bay had several solid scoring opportunities, including shots by Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan that hit the post.
"Take away the last five minutes of the second period and I really liked our game tonight," Cooper said. "It started in the back end with Lindback. He did everything we fully expected him to do, and the guys took care of the rest."
The Lightning grabbed a quick lead when Johnson one-timed a cross-ice pass from Stamkos past Emery 2:00 into the game for his 24th goal of the season, breaking Stamkos' franchise record for goals by a rookie. Stamkos has 23 in 2008-09.
"We were on a quick 3-on-2, a quick transition," Johnson said. "Stamkos got the puck and he was able to find me. Palat drove down the middle and that drew everyone to him. The puck was just laid out there for me and I was able to make full contact and found a way to put it in."
|Tyler Johnson (24) ASST: Steven Stamkos (15), Michael Kostka (5)|
1 - 0 TBL
|PPG - Wayne Simmonds (27) ASST: Claude Giroux (55), Jakub Voracek (37)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Richard Panik (3) ASST: Victor Hedman (41), Michael Kostka (6)|
2 - 1 TBL
|Eric Brewer (2) ASST: Tyler Johnson (26), Ondrej Palat (36)|
3 - 1 TBL
|Sean Couturier (12) ASST: Mark Streit (31)|
3 - 2 TBL
|PPG - Steven Stamkos (25) ASST: Valtteri Filppula (33), Victor Hedman (42)|
4 - 2 TBL
|Nikita Kucherov Hooking against Erik Gustafsson|
|Scott Hartnell Interference against Victor Hedman|
|Andrew MacDonald Interference against Radko Gudas|
|Tyler Johnson Tripping against Brayden Schenn|
|Andrej Sustr Interference against Mark Streit|
|Scott Hartnell Holding against Valtteri Filppula|