This was a game marked by several severe, steep momentum swings. Fortunately for the Lightning, they had momentum more than the Coyotes, which helped them build a 3-1 third period lead. Then, when Arizona cut the advantage to 3-2 and grabbed momentum in the second half of the third period, Ben Bishop made several remarkable saves to preserve the Lightning lead.
For the first seven-plus minutes of the game, the Lightning completely controlled play. They were outshooting the Coyotes, 6-1, and enjoyed a crisp early power play chance on which they posted four shots. But when the Coyotes received a power play opportunity at 7:51, momentum shifted. Arizona has an excellent power play (ranked fifth in the league) and while the Coyotes didn't score on that man advantage, it was a dangerous one and they generated momentum from it. For most of the rest of the period, the Coyotes dictated play. The Lightning struggled to clear pucks from their own zone and Arizona kept them hemmed in. Following a Tampa Bay d-zone turnover, Michael Stone wristed a high shot over Bishop's stick at 14:02. The Coyotes led, 1-0, after one.
Tampa Bay pushed back in the second, though. The Lightning's forecheck was very effective in forcing turnovers– and the Bolts were relentless in the second period in taking the body on Arizona defenders. At 3:40, David Moss received a double minor for high-sticking and the Lightning went on a four-minute power play. The PP didn't yield any good looks until the final minute of the advantage – off the rush, the Lightning caught Arizona in a loose line change. Ryan Callahan's cross ice pass in the neutral zone sent Ondrej Palat into the offensive zone with speed. He rifled a left circle shot past Smith to tie the game.
That goal sparked the Lightning, who dominated the rest of the period. (The Coyotes had one isolated chance, when Sam Gagner got loose on a breakaway, but Bishop made the save.) Late in the period, following another lengthy offensive zone shift, the Lightning grabbed the lead. Mark Barberio pinched in from the point to grab the rebound of an Anton Stralman shot. He circled behind the net and centered to Callahan, who roofed a left circle shot over Smith.
Up 2-1 entering the third, the Lightning added to their lead early in the final frame. After consecutive icings on the Coyotes, the Bolts capitalized against a tired unit. Smith made a good save on a point-blank Tyler Johnson shot and the Coyotes cleared the rebound. But as the Arizona defensemen tried to change, Victor Hedman reversed the puck to Palat, who broke free into the offensive zone. He finished the breakaway with a wrister past Smith's stick.
But the two-goal lead didn't last. An Lightning offensive zone turnover led to a breakaway goal for Mark Arcobello with 8:18 left. Arizona had momentum again. Over the next several minutes, the Coyotes pressed to tie the game. Bishop made several remarkable stops. On another Arizona chance, he got an assist from three teammates who tied up the stick of Antoine Vermette when it appeared Vermette would tap in a loose puck from the crease.
The Coyotes hurt their comeback effort with two late penalties and Stamkos finished the scoring with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
During our pregame interview, Jon Cooper cautioned that no matter where an opposing team ranks in the league, his club had to expect the best from the opposition. The Coyotes may be mired in a tough season, but their players have pride – and they looking to rebound from a bad loss earlier in the week to Colorado. To their credit, when the Coyotes had momentum for parts of the first and third periods, they were a very dangerous team. But thanks to Bishop, Arizona didn't score more than two. And when the Lightning got momentum and carried play (which was for the majority of the game), they produced enough offense for their third win in four games on the trip.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Palat's PPG in the second, which tied the score at 1-1 and helped the Bolts dominate the rest of the period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Ondrej Palat – Lightning. Two goals.
- Ryan Callahan – Lightning. Goal and assist.
- Ben Bishop – 20 saves. Spectacular after Arizona cut lead to 3-2 in third.