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Lightning score four in second, defeat Ducks

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- There was no magic button for the Tampa Bay Lightning to push after they were outplayed in the first period Wednesday. To hear captain Steven Stamkos tell it, it was an unspoken mandate to get back to their skating game.

Stamkos capped a four-goal second period with his 31st goal to lead Tampa Bay to a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.

"There was just a quiet confidence after the first [period], to be honest," Stamkos said. "I know we were down, but I felt like we had more to give. I think that was one of our better periods of the year in the second. [We] really dictated the play, and just set it up for the third to play a solid road period and get out of here with a win."

Anton Stralman, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay (36-18-6), which has three games remaining on its five-game trip.

The Lightning, who took Tuesday off to rest, were dominant in the second period when they outshot Anaheim 20-5, including 14-2 in the first 10 minutes. Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop made 13 of 24 saves in the third period for his 29th win.

Tampa Bay swept the season series against the Ducks and won two of three in California, confirmation that it can match up with the best in the Western Conference.

"I felt that all three games we could have pointed," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We were looking at this as an important swing. … We have to make sure we can start winning these games on the road, because if we're fortunate enough to get in the playoffs, you have to win on the road. This was a test for us."

The Ducks (35-16-7) played without defensemen Sami Vatanen (leg), Hampus Lindholm (lower body) and second-leading goal-scorer Matt Beleskey (shoulder). Anaheim is 1-4-1 in its past six games and has allowed 16 goals in four games.

Anaheim didn't have many explanations for its prolonged slump, nor could it explain following up a strong opening period with such a poor second.

"We relaxed," defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "We didn't play nearly as well. I thought we had far too many turnovers. We couldn't get the puck out of our zone, and when we did get some offensive zone time, it was one hope pass and we were done. They were turning it the other way. I thought that we stopped playing."

Kucherov and Stamkos scored in the final 1:55 of the second period to give Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead. Kucherov was credited with the goal on a puck that bounced through traffic to the crease, where a prone Ducks goalie John Gibson inadvertently swept the puck under his legs and had it go in the net at 18:05.

Stamkos buried Alex Killorn's cross-ice pass on the left side at 19:38. Johnson tapped in Ondrej Palat's at 5:55 and Stralman deflected Brian Boyle's shot at 4:31. Tampa Bay had four shots in the third period but could afford to be conservative in front of Bishop.

"Good goaltenders make for great coaches," joked Cooper, who credited his fourth line with some strong shifts to help the Lightning get going.

The other lines did the rest.

"They're a big, strong physical team," Stamkos said of Anaheim. "I think we're built a little differently. We’re built with a lot of speed. If we can utilize our speed, we're going to give teams trouble. I think we did that tonight. It's a big win for us. This is a tough building to play in. They're having a good year. It was a good response after being down in the first."

Patrick Maroon gave Anaheim 1-0 lead when he took multiple whacks to jam the puck over the goal line at 4:17. Kyle Palmieri fed Rickard Rakell for a shot that rebounded to Maroon on the right side. Maroon set the tone with six hits in a strong first period.

Anaheim has been outscored 71-28 in its 16 regulation losses, which strongly contrasts its 24-0-7 record in one-goal games. Lovejoy said this isn't the ideal time of the season to figure it out.

"This isn't a case of other teams coming in and beating us," Lovejoy said. "We think that when we're playing the right way, when we're playing the right style, that nobody's going to beat us, and we're not there right now. We need to get better."

Said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau: "I don't think anybody is very happy with what's going on. It's up to us. We can't hang our heads because every other team wants to win too. We have to pull ourselves out of this. When we do, we'll be a better team. We'd certainly like to see it sooner rather than later."

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