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Burns: 3 Things from a critical victory at Colorado

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Sunday's 3-2 overtime win against the Avalanche

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

In the span of about five minutes of real time Sunday night at Colorado, the collective emotions of the Tampa Bay Lightning swung from disbelief to euphoria during their 3-2 overtime victory.

Actually, the Bolts mood shifted in about the amount of time it took Jonathan Drouin to produce another moment of magic in a season suddenly filled with them for the third-year pro.

The Lightning gave up a two-goal lead for the second-straight night, the Avalanche netting a pair of goals in the third period, including the tying goal with 41.9 seconds remaining to leave the Bolts shaking their head.

But 2:27 into overtime, Drouin erased that brief disappointment, securing both points and Tampa Bay's fourth win in its last six games with an incredible individual effort.

The Lightning complete the back-to-back road trip with three of a possible four points and their point streak, now at six games, still intact.

Tampa Bay continues to munch points and climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference standings. How did they persevere on Sunday?

We'll dissect all the good play in 3 Things we learned from a critical win and two points in Colorado.

Video: TBL@COL: Drouin bags OT winner after fantastic move

1. DROUIN SALVAGES THE ROAD TRIP

Make no mistake, had the Lightning lost in overtime or a shootout Sunday in Colorado, they would have considered the road trip a failure.

Once again, the Bolts played well enough in regulation to take two points from the game. They built a 2-0 lead and appeared to go a long way to putting the game away midway through the third when Tyler Johnson scored to make it 3-1. Colorado, however, challenged that Johnson interfered with goaltender Calvin Pickard, and the refs, after reviewing the video, agreed.

With time running out in regulation and the Lightning still clinging to a one-goal lead, Pickard headed for the bench, and Colorado converted with the extra attacker to, momentarily, take two points away the Bolts felt they rightfully earned.

Jonathan Drouin, however, took matters into his own hands in overtime. He stick handled past one skater and tried to split a pair of Avs in the Colorado zone. He had the puck stripped, but he took it right back and, with a clear path toward goal, deked Pickard out of his skates before lifting a backhander into the net at the post.

"That's what he does," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "He's a gifted, gifted player. You get him that close to the net with the puck and a little bit of time and space, he can do some pretty magical things, and you saw that tonight."
Drouin's incredible display earned the Lightning two of their most important points of the season and two points they desperately had to have.

Video: TBL@COL: Bishop robs Landeskog with strong pad save

2. BISH BEING BISH

The season hasn't gone like Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop expected, especially compared to his last three seasons with the Bolts.

But since the start of February, Bishop has been absolutely sensational.

It's no coincidence Bishop's hot play has coincided with the Lightning's run of victories over the last six games.

Bishop won his fourth-consecutive start following Sunday's 3-2 overtime victory in Colorado. He's given up just five goals over his last four games.

His numbers in his last four?

A 1.21 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage.

His GAA since February ranks second in the NHL and his save percentage since the start of the month is third-best in the league.

On Sunday, Bishop made 27 saves on 29 shots to earn the victory. He was especially sharp early when Colorado came out with energy and purpose.

Bishop kept the Avalanche off the scoreboard despite coming under constant fire.

"He made (big saves) early," Cooper said. "The first five, six minutes, they had us on our heels a little bit. I don't know, it seemed like it took a little time for us to get our legs, but after that I thought we controlled a little bit of the play."

Had Bishop not been dialed in from the start, Colorado likely would have converted a couple of its early chances. His confident goaltending allowed the Bolts to settle down and eventually start to take over.

Video: TBL@COL: Namestnikov beats Pickard from the circle

3. A MUST WIN

Sunday's game was one the Lightning absolutely could not afford to let slip out of its grasp.

Earlier this season in Arizona during a six-game road trip, the Bolts laid an egg in the desert against the worst team in the Pacific Division to take a lot of the luster off of what had been a pretty decent road trip to that point.

In Colorado, the Lightning were facing the worst team points-wise in the NHL, the Avalanche with just 35 points in 57 games. Arizona, the second-to-last team, is 12 points ahead of the Avs with the same number of games.

Against a clearly struggling opponent, the Lightning had to take advantage. The fact they gave up a two-goal lead for the second-straight game is concerning, but two points is two points - especially at this time of the season - no matter how you get them.

"I thought the guys again played well enough to win the game and to give up the lead like we did, but everybody's battling hard and I don't know how many guys it hit before it went in the back of the net," Cooper said, referring to Matt Duchene's game-tying goal that deflected off both Victor Hedman and Jake Dotchin before beating Bishop.

"Unfortunately, give Colorado credit for not quitting down 2-0 going into the third, but we needed to win one of those where regardless of how this game's going to turn out or how we're going to get to 3-2, we needed it. I guess the fans got their money's worth in that overtime, but it was a good effort by our guys."

Now, having collected three of a possible four points, the Lightning can return to Tampa feeling satisfied with their effort and the outcome from their weekend road trip.

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