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Burns: 3 Things we learned from outlasting the Flyers

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 7-6 shootout victory over the Flyers

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

What a ho hum game that was, huh?

All kidding aside, the Lightning and the Flyers produced one of the most entertaining contests of the season in a rare Saturday matinee at AMALIE Arena, Tampa Bay outlasting Philadelphia 7-6 in a shootout in a game it rallied from multiple goals down two separate times.

The Lightning have gone to overtime five games in a row now, a new franchise record for consecutive overtime games. They're 4-0-1 in those five.

They're also on a seven-game point streak, going 6-0-1 over their last seven contests.

Steven Stamkos tallied two goals and three assists to set a new career high for points in a game.

Victor Hedman matched his career high for single-game scoring after recording two goals and two assists.

Nikita Kucherov tied a career high for single-game assists with three helpers in his first game back after missing the previous two with an upper-body injury. He also matched his career high for scoring in a season after reaching 85 points, the same total he put up a season ago.

Yanni Gourde grabbed an assist to become the fourth Lightning rookie all-time to reach that mark, joining Brad Richards, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

Now that we've got all that out of the way, let's take a look at Saturday afternoon's highlights.

Video: Cooper | Postgame TBL 7, PHI 6 F/SO

1. NO SHORTAGE OF RESILIENCY
Following the Lightning victory, the National Hockey League PR department tweeted that Tampa Bay joined rare company following its 7-6 shootout win.

The Lightning overcame two separate multi-goal deficits on Saturday for just the third time in franchise history. They also accomplished the feat on March 29, 2013 in a 5-4 shootout win versus New Jersey and on Nov. 18, 2018 in an 8-7 victory at Philadelphia.

This time, Tampa Bay went down 3-1 in the first period before tying the game 3-3 in the second. Philadelphia scored two straight to go back in front 5-3 with just over a minute off the clock in the third. But the Lightning again rallied, scoring three-straight times to grab its first lead 6-5 at 10:03 of the third.

"Especially being down one goal in the third and they score pretty much right away, a lot of times you can fold as a team but our resiliency and tenacity picked up after that," Hedman said. "Obviously, we wanted to close it out when we were up by one, but at the same time, I think we put ourselves in that situation today."

Tampa Bay was chasing the game pretty much from the start. Nolan Patrick connected on a power play seven minutes in to put Philly in front 1-0. Stamkos answered about a minute later with a power-play marker of his own, but the Flyers put two more on the board in the first to go into the first intermission up 3-1.

"Every time they scored, we went back on the ice with the mentality of we want to play well, we want to play good and we want to get back in this game," Gourde said. "I think that was really a character win tonight."

The Lightning scored two straight in the second period to level the score, but, again, Philly had an answer for the Bolts' comeback, scoring late in the second and early in the third to go up by two goals again, 5-3.

The Lightning, however, were not going to be denied on home ice and showed a will to win that should serve them well down the stretch of the regular season and (hopefully) into the playoffs.

"Anytime you're down a couple goals in different parts of the game, especially in the third, and you come back to win, it's emotional," Stamkos said. "It shows that guys care, that guys never give up. It starts with our goaltender, he made some huge saves at the end. We got some big goals, and we just stuck with it."

Video: PHI@TBL: Vasilevskiy robs Patrick with superb save

2. PLAY OF THE GAME?
Hard to believe the play of the game in a contest that featured 12 goals could be a save, but you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger sequence than when Andrei Vasilevskiy absolutely robbed Nolan Patrick on a back post redirect after the Lightning had battled back from two goals down to tie the game for a second time at 5-5.

Not too long after that display of brilliance from Vasilevskiy, the Lightning fed off the momentum their goalie generated and produced the go-ahead score for their first lead of the game at 6-5.

But if Vasilevskiy doesn't make that stop on Nolan, it's hard to say if the Bolts would have had the energy to rally from a deficit for a third time.

"You should have seen our bench when that happened. It was unbelievable," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "And then we go right down and score to make it 6-5. There were so many different turning points in this game you can't even point to one. (The Flyers) make that 6-5, I can't sit here and say we wouldn't have come back, but just the energy from the building from tying the game and unfortunately to give up that chance but for him to bail us out, you're sitting there in awe. We just built so much energy off of that."

From that moment on, Vasilevskiy was maybe the best player on the ice from both teams. He made a couple unreal saves in overtime and held off the Flyers during a 4-on-3 power play in the extra session to keep the game tied.

And in the shootout, he stopped both of Philadelphia's attempts to secure his 38th victory of the season, most in the NHL and second most in a season in Lightning history, just two shy of Ben Bishop's record of 40 from the 2014-15 campaign.
"We don't win the game without him," Hedman said. "He made some unbelievable saves and that's what he's been doing all year."

Video: PHI@TBL: Stamkos seals SO win for the Lightning

3. EARLY START, LATE ARRIVAL
Tampa Bay made its first afternoon start of the season, the 1 p.m. puck drop a departure from the typical night game it plays.

After Saturday's result, however, they'll probably wish they had more early starts on the schedule.

The Bolts will get another 1 p.m. game next Saturday when they host Montreal at AMALIE Arena, but they could see more in the playoffs, making Saturday a dress rehearsal of sorts for those postseason matinees.

"We finally get dinner at a decent time on game days," Hedman joked. "I don't mind them but we thought the game was at 2 o'clock today. We didn't start on time, but at the same time we battled back and played the way we did."

Perhaps the Lightning were caught off guard by the early start time because it took them at least a period to get into the game. Once they found their rhythm, however, they flourished, particularly on the offensive end where the attack was as good as it's been all season. There were plenty of question marks defensively, but Vasilevskiy did enough to keep the Lightning in the game and mask some of those defensive deficiencies.

The Lightning seemed to thrive with the early start time once they shook off some early cobwebs.

Stamkos found it particularly favorable.

"I guess that's the excuse, (the Flyers) play 1 o'clock games every Saturday at home in Philly and this was our first one," Stamkos said. "We didn't start the game on time. They did, that was kind of the joke. As a player, obviously after tonight, I love 1 o'clock games. I'd love to play more 1 o'clock games."

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