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Lightning edge Coyotes behind Palat's two goals

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz.Ondrej Palat scored his 13th and 14th goals, and Ryan Callahan had a goal and an assist to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Saturday.

"We have to be better. It wasn’t our best, but it’s another two points in the road," Palat said. "Everyone knows we’re struggling on the power play and we could breathe a little more after we scored. We had some good looks and we scored so we’ll take it."

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored the second of Tampa Bay’s two power-play goals, his 32nd, into an empty net with 4.3 seconds remaining. The Lightning are 3-1-0 on a five-game Western Conference road trip that ends Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche. Tampa Bay is 15-12-5 on the road.

Callahan set up Palat’s first goal and defenseman Anton Stralman had two assists for the Lightning (37-18-6), who are one point behind the Montreal Canadiens (81-80) for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone scored in the first period and Mark Arcobello scored to cut a 3-1 Tampa Bay lead in half with 7:18 left to play with his third goal in four games for Arizona.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop made 13 of his 22 saves in the third period and had big stops on Keith Yandle and Lucas Lessio late in his 30th win.

"[Having the lead cut to 3-2] was a momentum shift for sure but we have character in the room," Callahan said. "You take a deep breath and realize you’re still up a goal. They came in waves at us in the third and [Bishop] came up big. Now we can focus on one game and we’re two points away from a great trip.

"I feel like our style of play isn’t changing from home to road with our speed and our transition game. We’ve done that on this trip and since the All-Star Break. That’s a real good sign."

Arizona (20-32-7) has lost five in a row and eight straight at home (0-7-1), which is one shy of the franchise record, a mark set earlier this year when the Coyotes went 0-6-3 from Nov. 8-Dec. 13.

Mike Smith made 23 saves and lost for the 26th time.

"We had opportunities to tie it up and obviously we didn’t and it ends up another loss," Arizona captain Shane Doan said. "It doesn’t really matter how it happened. We had another loss and we’ve got to find a way to focus on the next one."

The Coyotes were outshot 6-1 in the first 10 minutes, but scored thanks to strong back-checking in their zone.

Arizona forward Lauri Korpikoski forced a Brett Connolly turnover and Martin Erat deflected the puck toward Stone at the top of the right circle. Stone had to settle the bouncing puck down before he sent a wrist shot past Bishop inside the far post to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 14:02 of the first period. Stone has four points in the past five games.

"I had some time to walk in,” Stone said. "I’ve been working on [the wrist shot] a little bit, not just winding up every time, so it was nice to just kind of put it in the spot."

The slumping Tampa Bay power play failed to score on two chances in the first period. But when Arizona’s David Moss caught Jason Garrison on the side of the face with a high stick to draw a double-minor, the Lightning finally cashed in on the back end.

Lightning center Tyler Johnson hit the post from point-blank range in the first half of the power play before Callahan took a loose puck and found Palat with speed behind defenseman Connor Murphy. Palat sent a shot that went past Smith at 6:45 of the first to tie the game 1-1.

"When they get a double minor you’ve got to score one there and we did," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It was a big weight off everyone’s shoulders when we got that one and I thought we played pretty well after that until the last six or seven minutes."

Smith took a Stralman shot off his facemask soon after and made a good stop on Callahan out front, but the Lightning pressure kept coming. Callahan ran down a wayward shot behind the Arizona net and sent a two-handed shot from a bad angle that caught Smith dropping down and crawled over his right shoulder at 14:31. Callahan’s 18th goal was Tampa Bay’s sixth second-period goal in two games; they scored four times in the second in a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

"We weren’t happy with the first period and we wanted to respond," Callahan said. "It was a gutsy win."

Palat scored what proved to be the game-winner 3:27 into the third period. Victor Hedman grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and passed to Palat, who made a power move past Arizona defenseman Andrew Campbell to free himself for a shot that went past Smith.

But the Lightning made things tougher on themselves when Arcobello intercepted a Stamkos pass at the Tampa Bay blue line, skated in alone and lifted a wrist shot over Bishop with 7:18 left in the third. Arcobello’s 11th goal was his third since being claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 11.

"When we make an error it’s a glaring one," Cooper said. "Stammer obviously wasn’t happy about what happened there but we’ve done that on a few occasions. Now we have to grind it out and give Arizona credit because they battled to the very end. If there was a break or two, who knows maybe we’re still playing."

Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Yandle both took penalties in the final 3:16 to cripple Arizona’s chances of a comeback and Stamkos atoned for his error with the empty net goal.

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