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Palat's OT goal lifts Lightning past Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Injuries or not, the Tampa Bay Lightning found a way to get back on track in Alberta.

Ondrej Palat scored the game-winner and Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves to lift the Lightning to a 2-1 come-from-behind overtime victory against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

The Lightning had lost forwards Ryan Callahan (lower body) and Alex Killorn (upper body) on Monday against the Edmonton Oilers, adding to an injury-riddled team already without defensemen Victor Hedman (hand) and Radko Gudas (lower body).

“And we lost (Nikita) Kucherov for half the first and the whole second,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s like the domino effect. It’s a little tougher on us because we lost hard guys to play against. Killorn’s a big body. Callahan’s a heavy body. Gudas is a heavy body and then Hedman is obviously Victor Hedman. It makes our team a little bit lighter and we have to rely on some other areas.

“You need depth and that’s how you have to win. We don’t know when these guys are coming back but we have to survive without them and we got practice at that last year when we lost 91 (Stamkos). Now we just have to pick up the slack and do it again.”

Following a six-game road trip that saw them earn four wins, the Flames have yet to win on home ice after opening a five-game home stretch with a loss Tuesday.

“We had two breakdowns there on their two goals,” captain Mark Giordano said. “Especially with a couple minutes left, we have to be better than that. We have to learn from that. That's a tough one to swallow right now. We'll take the point and learn from that, I guess.

“We've just to got to find a way. It was a tough way to lose [Tuesday]. We felt like we should have come out with two points.”

The Lightning are hoping the road can be equally as kind on their five-game swing away from Tampa Bay. After starting out with a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks, the Lightning split decisions in Alberta on back-to-back nights. Tampa Bay will visit the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Palat gathered a rebound off the pad of Karri Ramo to end the game with two minutes remaining in overtime. It avenged a turnover Monday in Edmonton that led to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins game-winner Monday.

“It was pretty good. It felt pretty good,” Palat said. “It was a game-winning goal. I knew I owed the team something, a goal or a game-winning goal, something. I’m really happy.

“It was my fault, but after a game I turn the page and I was getting ready for tonight. I’m really happy I could score for the guys.”

Palat’s winner came after Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Drouin couldn’t convert on a 2-on-0.

Both were in behind Calgary's defense when a neutral zone turnover sprung Stamkos, who fed a cross-crease pass to Drouin but he couldn't beat the outstretched pad of Ramo 1:39 into the extra period.

“[Stamkos] passed it to me and I shot it right away,” Drouin recounted. “I was like, ‘This is going to be in’ and he stopped it with his blocker or something. Maybe it’s not the right time to get my first one. It was nice for [Palat] to cover that for me. It was an unbelievable save by Ramo. I thought I had him. He made a great save with that.”

The Flames outshot Tampa Bay 8-5 through the opening 20 minutes, a period that was lacking in intensity until Calgary captain Mark Giordano caught Lightning forward Kucherov with a hit in the neutral zone before obliging J.T. Brown with a fight that followed 12 seconds later.

Giordano and Brown served nearly 10 minutes for their fight after a long stretch of action without a whistle held them in the penalty box. Giordano's first shift back came at 8:54 of the second period and he and Brown watched their teams exchange the best opportunities to get on the board in the second.

Calgary tested Nabokov with Mike Blunden also in the penalty box for tripping, but the Tampa Bay goaltender was equal to the task in flashing a quick glove save off Giordano's one-timer from the point with 7:52 remaining in the period. The opportunity came moments after Palat's chance on a shorthanded, odd-man rush was denied by Ramo.

Ramo was equally good with the glove too, snatching a Brown shot out of mid-air with four minutes remaining in the period.

Dennis Wideman's goal, his third in the past four games, came courtesy a gift from Gaudreau and opened the scoring 1:12 into the third period.

With a Valtteri Filppula minor for interference carrying over into the third period, Kris Russell dropped a pass to Gaudreau in the neutral zone. Gaudreau picked through three members of the Tampa Bay penalty kill before throwing the puck back across the slot for Wideman, who beat Nabokov to complete the highlight-reel play and put the Flames up 1-0.

“I just skated down the side there and Johnny basically drew everybody in the rink to him, deked them out and then made a great pass to me,” Wideman said. “I don't know how he knew that I was there, but he made some fantastic moves and just put it on my tape. I just got it on net.

“Johnny, when he's got the puck and he's in those tight, little areas, he makes some pretty fantastic moves. He's got great hands, is quick laterally and he's tough to check in those tight areas. He makes some great plays.”

After failing to record a point in each of his first five games, Gaudreau was scratched in the second-last game of Calgary's road trip. He's recorded three points, including his first goal of the season, in two games since.

Filppula avenged the penalty on Wideman's goal with 2:16 remaining in regulation. Jason Garrison's blast from the point managed to squeak through Ramo and started to roll through the crease before Filppula swatted the puck over the goal line to tie the game 1-1, end Ramo's shutout bid and force overtime.

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