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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a shootout win in Calgary

Beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 5-4 shootout win over Calgary

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning are used to taking the opposition's best shot this season.

That's life when you're the top team in the NHL standings by an ever-increasing margin.

The Lightning, however, have perfected the art of absorbing an opponent's initial surge and then countering with a quick flurry of their own to continue to pile up wins.

The Calgary Flames were the latest victim of the Bolts' rope-a-dope game.

Calgary punished the Lightning and opened up a 3-1 lead in the first period before the Lightning stormed back quickly in the second to tie the game 3-3. Neither team could grab ahold of the game over the final 30 minutes and five more in overtime, necessitating a shootout the Lightning won in round seven after J.T. Miller was able to stop a run of five-straight misses for the Bolts to send them to a 5-4 shootout victory and two more points.

The Lightning have now recorded points in 11-straight games. They're 13-1-1 over their last 15 games. They improved to 27-7-2 on the season, the 56 points tying the franchise record for most points through the first 36 games of a season.

This Lightning team, it seems, just knows how to win games.
"Regardless of the deficit, the guys feel like they come back, and they proved it again tonight," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.

Ahead, we'll break down the Bolts' latest come-from-behind victory and shed some light on a couple milestones achieved in Three Things we learned from surviving in Calgary.

Video: TBL@CGY: Killorn jams puck in from the doorstep

The Lightning were lackadaisical, lethargic and listless in the first period, the Flames skating through their defense almost at will, creating plenty of quality scoring chances and converting three of them to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission locker room.

Tampa Bay was lucky it was a larger deficit.

But somewhere during the 18 minutes between the first and the second periods, the Lightning found their game, the one that's allowed them to sprint to the head of the NHL standings and open up an eight-point lead entering Thursday's game.

A quick-strike Lightning attack got the contest back on level terms early in the second period. Steven Stamkos led a 2-on-1 with Adam Erne and faked a shot, trying to pass over to his right for Erne. Instead, T.J. Brodie poked the puck away to break it up but ended up putting the puck into the back of his own net to get the Lightning within a goal at 3:19 of the second.

Less than three minutes later, Alex Killorn finished off a scramble in front of the Flames' net, jamming the puck past Calgary goalie David Rittich with Yanni Gourde and Stamkos also there trying to whack it in to level the score 3-3.

With their quick response to start the second period, the Lightning were able to regain their footing in a game they were in danger of getting blown out of in the first.

"We were up against the ropes I'll tell you that after the first period," Cooper said. "I don't know whatever it was, we didn't have our legs. We were just slow. They were faster than us. The guys turned it around, big goal by Stammer early. For him and Killer to tie it up there in the first five minutes kind of fueled our attack. I thought we had a really good second period."

At one point in the opening period, the Lightning were outshot 12-4 and down by two goals. From that low point through the end of the second period, the Bolts owned an 18-8 shot advantage and outscored the Flames 2-0.

This Lightning team has proven to be a resilient bunch throughout the season, and they showed it again in Calgary.

"There's nothing you can do but try to work yourself out of it when things aren't going well," Stamkos said. "We're not a team that's just going to bury our heads and quit. We came in here after the first, that's not the standard that we play with in here and we found a way to turn it around. We've done that multiple times this year. We'll correct some things, but we showed the character to come back."

 Video: TBL@CGY: Domingue denies Monahan three times in OT

Louis Domingue made 13 starts, including 11 in a row, when Andrei Vasilevskiy was sidelined by a left foot fracture and went 11-2-0 over that stretch, proving the Lightning had a more than capable backup they could lean on to win games when Vasilevskiy wasn't in net.

But once Vasilevskiy returned, Domingue went back to his regular role as the Lightning backup. His start in Calgary was his first in 10 days, and the long layoff between games was difficult for Domingue to re-adjust to after establishing a rhythm during the consistent starts.

Domingue struggled early in Calgary, allowing three goals on the first 11 shots he faced. But he settled down after, allowing the rest of his teammates to pick up their play and get into the game. And as Thursday's contest progressed, Domingue's play continued to improve.

By the overtime session and subsequent shootout, he was playing at an elite level. In overtime, Domingue thwarted seven shots by the Flames, including three wide-open looks in quick succession right in front of goal, to keep the Lightning's hopes of winning alive.

"I didn't have time to think because (the shots) were just coming from everywhere," Domingue said of the overtime. "We caught a couple posts in overtime, and we could have ran away with it. It was fun, definitely fun."

In the shootout, Domingue stopped six of the Flames' seven attempts, giving the Bolts a chance to win until Miller could convert in the seventh round.

"You know that's your role, but he went from playing, whatever it was, 13 or 14 in a row to now he's got to sit out for a week and a half," Cooper said. "He was so important on our run that we made, but he's part of our team. He's going to play some games. It's a tough situation to be the backup because you have to be razor sharp and a lot of times you probably don't get the best starts, a lot of back-to-backs and stuff like that, but against an extremely quality opponent, he played great."

Domingue's numbers won't look great after Thursday's game, the 26 year old giving up four goals on 37 shots.

But when it mattered most, he shut the door on one of the NHL's best offensive teams. And he did it without having the benefit of regular playing time to ensure he stays sharp.

"He was just lights out in overtime and the shootout," Stamkos said. "He made some huge saves. Can't thank the guy enough after we play like that, he saves the day for us."

Tweet from @mstlouis_26: Congrats @RealStamkos91. If I would guess I would say 25 more games and you will be the all time leading scorer for the bolts. #stayhot

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos, playing in his 700th career NHL game, passed long-time teammate and friend Martin St. Louis to move into second place among the Bolts' all-time goal leaders after netting his 366th career NHL goal early in the second period Thursday.

How No. 366 happened, however, wasn't exactly the way Stamkos would have drawn up.

After being denied on a breakaway moments earlier, Stamkos was part of a 2-on-1 led by Adam Erne toward the Flames goal. Erne passed to Stamkos, who faked a one-timer from the top of the left circle and sent the puck back across for Erne. The deceptive move had Rittich out of position, but before Erne could redirect Stamkos' pass into the open net, T.J. Brodie got his stick on the puck, deflecting it forward past the sprawling Rittich.

An own goal that counted as his marker because he was the last to touch the puck probably wasn't how Stamkos envisioned breaking St. Louis' goal tally.

Nonetheless, it was a pivotal goal for a Lightning team reeling to that point.

Producing in key moments, now that's vintage Stamkos.

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