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Bishop, Lightning latest to shut out Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The power outage continues at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Calgary Flames started the New Year the same way they closed 2013: struggling to score a goal. After being shut out in two of their final three December games, the Flames were shut out Friday by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ben Bishop made 19 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist to lift Tampa Bay to the 2-0 victory.

"It's not a recipe to win games," Flames forward Lee Stempniak said. "It's really frustrating. We definitely feel like we're letting the goaltenders down. They've played great. Every game, they've kept us in it and given us a chance. It's frustrating. It's hard. It's definitely a disappointing feeling for the 18 skaters out there letting them down."

It was the third time in four games the Flames have been shut out on home ice. In fact, the Flames have scored once in a span of 245:05 dating to a 4-3 shootout win against St. Louis Blues on Dec. 23. Calgary goaltenders have given up 10 goals in that span.

"The team is frustrated offensively," Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said of the Flames. "They had a tough task tonight. [Bishop] has been on top of his game. We've been there before. It's a tough place to be when you have a tough time scoring. You're pressing a little bit. I'm sure they'll come out of it. Usually they come in bunches."

The win extended the Lightning's road winning streak to five games. Palat extended his point-scoring streak to five when he broke open a scoreless game in the second period.

Shortly after a minor penalty to Mike Cammalleri expired, Teddy Purcell found Palat alone in the high slot. He coasted in before ripping a shot over the glove of Flames goaltender Karri Ramo to put the Lightning up 1-0 at 5:23.

"I feel like every game, my confidence is getting better," Palat said. "Maybe it's because I play with Marty (St. Louis) and Johnny (Tyler Johnson)."

It didn't take long for Palat to pass on the good fortune to Nikita Kucherov. Skating into the Calgary zone, Palat faked a shot before finding Kucherov driving to the far post for a tap-in at 10:20.

St. Louis almost made it 3-0 early in the third.

With teammate Radko Gudas in the penalty box for tripping less than a minute in, St. Louis got a step on Dennis Wideman and broke in alone for a shorthanded opportunity on Ramo. St. Louis tried to beat the Flames goaltender between the legs, but was denied.

Tampa Bay defenseman Eric Brewer was whistled for cross checking after Gudas' minor expired, and St. Louis had another opportunity. The 38-year-old Canada Olympic hopeful picked off Ramo's clearing attempt, deked the scrambling netminder and fired a shot on the seemingly empty net, only to have it blocked by a sprawling Stempniak.

Back-to-back shifts by the Flames early in the second half of the third yielded several scoring chances, but Paul Byron couldn't convert on his slap shot from the slot, nor could TJ Brodie with his one-timer from the point with 6:42 remaining.

Ramo did his best to keep Calgary in the game on the next shift. Kucherov sprung Nate Thompson in alone but Ramo blockered away his shot. Still on the ice, Kucherov went in alone and tried to deke the Flames goalie, but Ramo turned him aside too.

But the Flames couldn't capitalize on another solid outing from their goaltender, who made 27 saves in the loss.

"We've got to play like we have nothing to lose because we really don't," said Flames captain Mark Giordano. "We're not finding a way to get those goals. Every mistake, it seems now, is magnified because we're not scoring goals. And we're wasting some pretty good efforts from our goaltenders."

Though neither team could score through the opening 20 minutes, it wasn't from a lack of trying from Tampa Bay forward Tyler Johnson.

Fourteen seconds into the contest, Johnson redirected Palat's centering pass by Ramo's glove but not the post. Less than five minutes later, with Shane O'Brien in the penalty box for roughing, Ramo flashed his right pad at both Teddy Purcell's initial shot and Johnson's rebound attempt from point-blank range.

Ramo again got the better of Johnson with over seven minutes remaining in the period, using his the glove after the 5-foot-9 forward tried to deflect Victor Hedman's initial point shot into the top corner of the net.

Calgary's best chance to score came before it could register a shot on goal. After Mikael Backlund barged his way into the Lightning zone, Brewer hauled him down. Though it appeared Tampa Bay didn't get control of the puck, the referee whistled the play down before Cammalleri put the loose puck behind a sprawled Bishop into the net.

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