Over the course of a long season, teams sometimes win games in which they don’t play particularly well. That’s what happened for the Lightning on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers.
Coming off two road losses – games in which the team struggled with its rush coverage – the Lightning again yielded numerous chances off the rush to the speedy Edmonton Oilers. Fortunately for the Bolts, goaltender Ben Bishop was up to the challenge. He made several point blank saves throughout the game, especially in the first two periods. But the team in front of Bishop was not sharp through most of the opening 40 minutes. The Lightning were guilty of “over-passing” instead of shooting and frequently put back on their heels as the Oilers accelerated up ice.
Two pucks got past Bishop –and both came on rebounds after he made saves on in-alone chances. Steven Stamkos had momentarily tied the game at one in the second period when he came off the bench to accept a cross-ice pass from Matt Carle. He roofed a right circle shot over the glove of Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens. But that was one of only 10 shots on goal the Lightning mustered through two periods. And after Benoit Pouliot’s power play goal in the final minute of the second, the Lightning trailed, 2-1.
The key to the Lightning’s third period comeback was an early goal scored by Ondrej Palat. Tyler Johnson, who ended up missing only one game due to his lower body injury and returned to the lineup in this contest, sped behind the Edmonton net and centered for Nikita Kucherov. Scrivens stopped the first shot but Palat buried the rebound. That early goal settled the Lightning’s game and they played much better for the bulk of the third period. They spent more time in the offensive zone and prevented the Oilers from attacking the Lightning end with speed. They grabbed their first lead with 8:01 left when Nikita Nesterov pinched in at the offensive blue line and poked the puck loose off Teddy Purcell’s stick. Johnson intercepted the puck and set up Palat in the high slot. He rifled a high shot over Scrivens’ stick.
The Oilers fired 14 third period shots on Bishop, but it was the period in which they generated the fewest scoring chances. Soild d-zone coverage and good puck management helped the Lightning cross the finish line and pick up a come-from-behind win.
With the two-game losing streak they brought into this game, the Lightning now have had five separate two-game losing streaks this year (which includes one skid with a shootout loss and regulation loss). In all five instances, they’ve not allowed the streak to reach three.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Palat’s tying goal early in the third period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Ondrej Palat – Lightning. Two goals, including GWG.
2.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 30 saves.
3.Benoit Pouliot – Oilers. Two goals.