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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a rally over Carolina

Beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over Carolina

by Bryan Burns /

For two-plus periods, the Lightning looked lethargic, out of sorts and not at all like the team Bolts fans have gotten used to watching during Thursday's home tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes.

When Justin Williams scored on a rebound early in the second period to put Carolina ahead 1-0, it seemed that might be the only goal necessary for the Hurricanes with the way Tampa Bay's offense was stagnating.

But like we've seen from this team throughout the season, the Lightning are never out of it, even when they appear to be, well, out of it.

Tampa Bay tied the game 1-1 with about eight minutes to go on Ondrej Palat's power-play goal. Brayden Point gave the Lightning their first lead nearly five minutes later on another power-play marker. And Point added an empty-net goal with 26 seconds to go in a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Carolina that won't go down in the books as the Bolts' prettiest effort but can be marked down as a win and two points all the same.

"Maybe it wasn't our sharpest game, but it's two points in the bank," Victor Hedman said following the win.

That's the kind of season it's been for Tampa Bay: In one of its poorest performances of the season, the Lightning still beat a pretty good Carolina team by two goals.

Here's how the Bolts were able to rally.

Video: CAR@TBL: Point nets PPG to give Lightning lead

Tampa Bay's power play was lethargic on its first four opportunities Thursday against Carolina.

With two more chances over the last half of the third period, however, the unit came through splendidly.

Ondrej Palat tied the game with, appropriately, a goal that wasn't the cleanest but still ended up in the back of the net. Brayden Point had the puck at the top of the right circle with the Hurricanes' penalty kill shading to his side of the ice. Point passed to the opposite circle for a wide-open Steven Stamkos, who went for the shot but had his attempt deflected. The puck, however, went right to Palat on the back post, and the left winger had just Calvin de Haan in front of him with Petr Mrazek pulled out of goal expecting Stamkos' shot.

Palat fumbled the puck on his shot but got enough on it to send it through de Haan's legs and into the net.

"I think it hit my blade a little bit and off my leg. It counts," Palat deadpanned. "I'm okay with that."

With 3:55 remaining, former Bolt Greg McKegg was called for slashing, and the Lightning went back on the power play looking to take the lead.

This time, the setup was much more fluid.

Victor Hedman, playing his 663rd career game to pass Pavel Kubina for most all-time by a Lightning defenseman, kept the puck in the zone and backhanded a pass to the right circle for Nikita Kucherov.

With the Canes' penalty killers spread out wide, Point was free in the slot and Kucherov dished off to his left, Point digging the puck out on one knee to one-time a shot at the far post past the outstretched blocker of Mrazek.

"We've got a lot of weapons on both units and obviously today was a good example, we showed we can score off the rush and we can score on set plays," Hedman said. "We've got a lot of threats and we work on it a lot in practice and try to get better as a group and we want to be a game changer when the game is on the line."

The Lightning power play was certainly a game changer on Thursday.

It changed an L into a W.

Video: Palat on the team's third period

Brayden Point thought he'd leveled the score in the second period when he received a perfectly-placed stretch pass just ahead of the blue line, sprinted ahead to split a pair of Canes and batted his rebound out of the air and into the net after Mrazek was able to temporarily thwart his initial attempt.

But Carolina challenged the play for offside. Initial replays showed Point was clearly onside. However, another angle, one not shown on Lightning Vision at AMALIE Arena, spotted Tyler Johnson's left skate still on the ice and in the zone as he attempted to get off the ice.

When the referee announced the goal would be overturned - the correct call - the fans at AMALIE Arena went ballistic, having not seen the replay showing Johnson's skate. The booing only intensified as the game went on, and suddenly a pretty lackluster crowd, one mirroring the team's play on the ice, was energized.

The change in tenor seemed to energize the Lightning as well.

From that moment, Tampa Bay picked up its play, started possessing the puck a little more, made the smart pass rather than the hopeful one and generated more pressure on Carolina's goal, culminating with the pair of power-play tallies in the third.

"I'll tell you one thing, the replay showing in the arena didn't show the offside, so the crowd starts going nuts and to be honest I thought that gave us life and our game really picked up after believe it or not a non-goal call and an offside," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "But it was really the crowd that got us into it and we needed something, we needed a little bit of a lift and they helped us out."

Video: Point on his two goals

Carolina had yet to lose in regulation this season when leading after two periods, going 15-0-2 entering Thursday's game.

This Lightning team, however, isn't phased by seemingly impossible scenarios.

Even though nothing they did seemed to go right for much of the Carolina game, even though their one time breaking through was overturned following video review, even though every pass they made seemed to get caught up in a skate or tipped away by a Canes' stick, the Lightning stuck with it.

No deficit, no situation, it seems, is too difficult for this Tampa Bay team to overcome.

"I think it's just we have a confidence in our dressing room that no lead is insurmountable," Point said. "Obviously don't want to be in that spot, I think we just have a confidence that we're not out of it and we stick with it and tonight it paid off."

The Lightning improved to 6-5-0 on the season when trailing after two periods.

How is this team able to remain so resilient even when circumstances dictate they should wilt?
"We want to win in front of our fans," Hedman answered. "We've got some guys on this team that step up in these occasions. Today was no different. We're happy with the way we played in the third period with resiliency and tenacity we had in our game. We'll take that with us to Buffalo."

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