Tyler Johnson’s goal with 5:26 remaining in regulation, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first score in Detroit in nearly 180 minutes, was clearly the lift the Lightning needed to engineer a dramatic comeback in Game 4 on Thursday.
But, it was an incident a few minutes prior that gave the Lightning a lift and rallied the Bolts to a 3-2 overtime win in Joe Louis Arena.
With 7:28 to go in the game, Detroit’s Luke Glendening shoved Johnson into the boards from behind, sparking a scuffle that involved everybody on the ice, sans goalies, and left Glendening heading to the locker room for the rest of the game with an injury to the thumb on his right hand, an injury requiring stitches.
“That was a little bit of a turning point when that scrum happened,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “You think about that, Johnny got hit pretty hard in that scrum and (Alex Killorn) came in, our whole group came in after that and kind of started the melee.”
Johnson said he was “upset” by Glendening’s hit but it helped unite the team.
“I thought it was a pretty cheap play, but it is what it is,” he said. “I think the guys responded very well to that. We all stuck together. It’s huge. It’s something that we’ve talked about all season long, and it doesn’t stop in the playoffs. I think that did help the team out quite a bit actually.”
A little more than two minutes following the hit, seconds after Victor Hedman and Landon Ferraro -- serving Glendening’s penalty while the fourth-line center was getting checked out in the locker room – exited the penalty box from the melee, Johnson tucked the Bolts’ first goal into the net.
“He’s a special player,” Lightning goalie Ben Bishop said of Johnson. “They’re obviously a special line, but everybody on this team has been stepping up. He’s been doing it all year, and obviously it shows why he’s an All-Star.”
Bishop said he was able to forget about the second goal he allowed on Thursday after the Lightning were able to rally for a 3-2 overtime victory.
During the play, Bishop made a swipe at Joakin Andersson’s shot from just inside the blue line with his glove but was unable to secure the puck cleanly. As it floated in the air, Bishop tried to bat the puck away from goal but inadvertently sent it over his own goal line.
“It went in and was one of those things where it’s like, ‘Did that just happen?’ he said. “…It’s one of those things where I didn’t feel like I got shaken up by it. I still felt good…It was tough, but thank God the guys came back to score a couple goals.”
Bishop was also whistled for two penalties during the game. Fortunately, the Lightning were able to kill both minors without any damage.
Asked if he had ever gotten penalized twice in one game, Bishop responded affirmatively.
“Probably a few times to be honest,” he said with a smile. “I think I had three in one period in the minors. No stranger to a couple penalty minutes.”
Bishop said he’s grown more comfortable as the First Round series has progressed. He stopped 22-of-24 shots, including all six after giving up the unfortunate goal, to earn the second postseason victory of his career.
To get his third, he said the team has to play with the same back-against-the-wall mentality they found in Game 2 and at the end of Game 4.
“It’s just really important not to get too high,” Bishop said. “I think maybe after the last win we had, we were a little overanxious and kind of got a little too high. So it’s going to be important to kind of stay level-headed here and go in kind of desperate like we have the last couple games.”
Cooper called Saturday’s Game 5, set for 6 p.m. at Amalie Arena, a “pivotal” game in the series.
“We have it at home, and we know it’s going to be a pretty exciting atmosphere in there,” Cooper said.
After dropping Game 1 at Amalie Arena, the Lightning regained their home-ice advantage by pulling out a win in Detroit.
“Hopefully the team may gain a little momentum off (the Game 4 win)…Now it’s a best-of-three series,” Johnson said. “We have home-ice advantage. We worked hard for that, now we’ve just got to use it.”