Steven Stamkos came oh-so-close to leveling the score with less than a minute to go in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s contest with the Nashville Predators, the Bolts’ captain pinging a one-timer off the crossbar on a power play with 48 seconds to go.
Stamkos wanted just one more chance.
Victor Hedman provided the opportunity.
With time running out on the Lightning and their home win streak, Hedman delivered a pass to Stamkos beyond the circles. This time, Stamkos was true with his one-time blast, beating Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne to tie the game 3-3 and give the Bolts new life.
A little over a minute into overtime, Tyler Johnson completed the comeback, splitting a pair of Preds during the three-on-three skate and depositing the puck near post for a dramatic 4-3 Lightning victory, a much-needed two points and the Bolts’ ninth win in a row at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay will attempt to tie the record for longest home win streak in franchise history set last season (10 games from Dec. 11-Jan. 31) on Sunday vs. the St. Louis Blues.
But before that, let’s dissect all the action from the Nashville win in today’s 3 Things.
1. MAKING HISTORY
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said Victor Hedman was “a beast” in the third period of the Lightning’s 4-2 loss to Montreal on Tuesday.
Three days later versus Nashville, Hedman stayed in beastmode.
With the Lightning desperately searching for the game-tying goal on a late power play and with goalie Ben Bishop pulled from the net for an extra attacker, Hedman saw Steven Stamkos setting up outside the left circle for a slap shot. Hedman got the Lightning captain the puck in a good spot, and Stamkos blistered it into the goal to secure at least a point for the Bolts.
In overtime, Hedman carried the puck down the left wing and noticed Tyler Johnson in good position entering the offensive zone. Hedman banked a pass off the boards right into Johnson’s path, and the Lightning center calmly beat Pekka Rinne for the game-winner.
Two perfect passes from Hedman
Hedman entered Friday’s game needing one assist to tie Pavel Kubina for eighth all-time on the Lightning’s all-time assists list. He picked up two in a span of 1:31.
Hedman is now second all-time among Lightning defensemen for assists with 172 for his career and needs just 14 more to tie Dan Boyle for the top spot.
Meanwhile, Steven Stamkos picked up the 242nd assist of his career on Johnson’s game-winning goal and needs two more to tie Vaclav Prospal (244) for fourth on the Lightning’s all-time list. Stamkos netted his 298th career goal and is two away from hitting the 300-goal milestone.
Also, Ryan Callahan played in his 600th career NHL game and 150th as a member of the Lightning on Friday and led the Bolts for hits with three.
2. BROWNIE POINTS
Cooper has repeatedly praised the defensive play of the J.T. Brown-Valtteri Filppula-Ryan Callahan line for its ability to matchup against the opposition’s best offensive threat and shut it down.
But, in recent weeks, Brown has shown a propensity for not just preventing goals but scoring them too.
Brown entered February with four goals on the season. He has three in five games since the month started.
Brown now has seven goals this season. His career high coming into 2015-16 was four.
“Even this little couple games we’ve been struggling a little bit here, he’s been a big part of our offensive attack,” Cooper said. “When guys like Brownie are chipping in, our team’s better off. But he deserves everything he’s getting. You can’t ask for more effort and tenacity that kid’s giving us. Now he’s getting paid off by the points he’s getting for us, but they’re all richly deserved.”
Brown’s second-period goal on Friday was another example of the hard work he’s provided all season. Filppula sent a puck on net with Brown hanging out in the crease, producing a scramble in front. Brown stuck with the play after his initial attempts were blocked and, while fending off Predators defenseman Barret Jackman, snuck a shot between Rinne’s outstretched left leg and the post to tie the game 1-1.
“He’s a guy that you love to see succeed because he battles so hard night in and night out,” Tyler Johnson said. “I just love watching him play. He just gives it his all, all the time. For him to get rewarded like this and be on a roll the way he is, you can’t be happier for the guy. It’s awesome.”
Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness said after the Bolts’ dismal 5-1 loss in Ottawa on Monday, the coaches were discussing who played well.
Brown’s was the only name that came up.
“He’s an energy guy,” Bowness said. “You notice him all the time.”
3. UNSUNG HERO
With Jason Garrison out for the next three to five weeks, Cooper said it would be up to the remaining defensemen to share his minutes and pick up the slack. The Lightning recalled Slater Koekkoek from Syracuse to help fill the void, but the veterans on the back end would be counted on most heavily.
Against Nashville, Braydon Coburn took that message to heart and quietly had one of his better games of the season.
Early, with the Lightning searching to ignite their attack, Coburn skated onto a loose puck in the right circle and unleashed a slap shot that tested Rinne at the near post, forcing the Preds goalie to make a quick reaction save to keep the puck out of the net.
A few moments after, Coburn sent another dangerous shot through traffic and on frame that was deflected away from the target but provided another decent scoring chance for the Bolts.
“We encourage all of our D to get up and get involved in the play,” Bowness said. “You noticed it more last night because sometimes that’s just the way the game evolves. There he is, he’s up at the right time and the puck is coming to him. There are lots of times he’s up and the puck wasn’t coming to him. Last night, the puck came to him at the right time, and he put it on the net.”
Later in the game, Coburn slid on the ice in front of the crease to break up a two-on-one and what looked to be a sure goal for the Predators.
“Cobi’s a pretty consistent player,” Bowness said. “He’s not a flashy guy. You notice him because of his size and everything, but he gets the job done without a lot of fanfare. He’s a very steady player.”