TAMPA, FL -
Steven Stamkos showed why he's tied for the league goal-scoring lead, lighting the lamp twice in the opening period to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday night.
"Absolutely," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins when asked if the team deserved better on this night. "It's one of those nights where I loved the way we played. We played with passion."
Both of Stamkos’ goals were individual efforts, stripping Oilers players of the puck and then utilizing his skill to make the young Oilers pay for their mistake.
"We made three mistakes tonight and two of them went to the wrong player," Eakins continued, referring to the aforementioned Stamkos.
Near the eight-minute mark of the opening frame, Nail Yakupov turned the puck over at the blueline to Stamkos, who rifled a shot from the high slot top corner past Dubnyk to put the Lightning on the board.
The Oilers came right back on the attack after the goal and had some solid chances, the best of which resulted in the game-tying goal. Ales Hemsky skated in on a partial break and was denied by Bishop but Eberle scooped up the rebound and took his time before feeding Taylor Fedun in the slot. Fedun made no mistake, rifling a wrist shot from the slot past Bishop to make it 1-1.
Tampa Bay regained the lead with less than a minute to play in the opening period.
Stamkos stripped the puck from Eberle along the side boards then skated behind the net before wrapping it in past Dubnyk and putting the Lightning back in the lead.
30 seconds after the goal, Hall skated in behind the Lightning defence and tried to deke out Bishop but the Tampa netminder was equal to the task.
The Oilers outshot the Lightning 40-26 with Bishop turning away 38 shots.
"I thought he stole them the game," Eakins said of Bishop.
Coach Eakins decided to shake up the lines a bit as the game passed the midway point. Linus Omark found his way onto the top line with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. Yakupov, Gordon and Arcobello made up another line and Hall/Hemsky/Gagner were skating as an offensive unit.
Eakins felt that the boost of Hall being added to the lineup helped the team a lot.
"Having a player of that calibre in your lineup is a great great thing. After I moved the lines around a little bit I thought Hall, Gagner and Hemsky had some great shifts."
Late in the second, a turnover at the Lightning blueline sent Taylor Hall in all alone on Bishop. Hall's shot was denied by the Lightning netminder. Bishop then made another big stop as Hemsky corralled the rebound.
"That's pretty much the story of the game," Hall said of the strong goaltending performance by Bishop. "I feel like there's a lot of games where we outshoot the opposition. I thought we played a really good game. We battled hard and competed hard."
Several minutes later, Tyler Johnson made a nice move in the slot before firing one past Dubnyk to increase the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1.
Ales Hemsky was tripped up along the side boards in the Lightning zone by Sami Salo with just over 10 minutes to play in the third period and that led to the Oilers' second goal.
Early in the power play,
Bishop slid over to rob Taylor Hall but the Oilers winger regrouped and picked up the puck at the right circle where he wired it past the Lightning netminder to make it a one-goal game at 3-2 but that was as close as the Oilers would get. Valtteri Filpulla added an empty netter in the final minute to make it 4-2 Bolts.
Boyd Gordon had a late chance, taking a great pass from Yakupov and just missing as Bishop made an unbelievable glove save.
"Bishop made a hell of a save on Boyd Gordon there. Good on Yak. I wish we could have finished that for him," Eakins stated. Gordon thought he could have done more on the chance.
"Yak made a good play getting it over," said Gordon. "It was a good opportunity and maybe I didn't get it up high enough but he made a good save."