EDMONTON – Despite rallying from a two-goal deficit with two markers in the second period, the Edmonton Oilers added two more in the third to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3, at Rexall Place Sunday night.
"The Oilers had a lot of jump in their legs and it's a tough league, it takes a lot of energy to come back," head coach Jon Cooper said. "If we got the fourth goal it may have been a different game, but I'll give them credit they scored the fourth goal and that's the one that won it."
Tampa Bay netminder Ben Bishop also exited the game with the score tied 1-1 at 4:18 of the first. It was later announced that he would not return with an upper body injury after he seemed to have some discomfort in his blocker hand. Anders Lindback was left to man the crease in his absence, while Bishop will be re-evaluated in Winnipeg Monday.
"It's tough when you lose your starting goalie in the first five minutes of the game," Cooper said. "I don't know what the injury is, but I don't think it's going to be serious. If it is Lindback is a proven goaltender and we'll be fine."
Nikita Kucherov opened up scoring at 2:43 of the first on the power play, but less than two minutes later Edmonton's Jordan Eberle matched Kucherov's marker to knot the game at one. Immediately following Eberle's tally, Bishop exited the game.
Without a chance to warm-up, Lindback stopped eight of 10 shots he faced to close the first, as the Oilers got out of the first with a 3-1 lead. Eberle notched his second goal of the game with a right sharp-angled shot for their first tally on the man advantage with Alex Killorn serving a double minor for high-sticking. Then Luke Gazdic deflected Justin Schultz's shot for a two-goal lead at the end of 20.
At 8:47 of the second period Victor Hedman cut the Lightning's deficit by one with a shot from the right face-off circle that beat Oilers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for a 3-2 game. Ondrej Palat's primary assist on the goal extended his point streak to six games, which is tied for the league lead among NHL rookies. Hedman also has two goals and five assists since his return from injury seven games ago.
"Confidence has been the biggest key for me and finding consistency," Hedman said. "I felt like I was very flat in the first period and I came out and played hard in the second period and that's exactly what I wanted to do."
The Lightning and Oilers headed out of the second period with the game locked at three after Valtteri Filppula scored the equalizer from the right face-off circle, which breezed past Bryzgalov stick side.
"We came out very flat in the first, we had to go put pressure in their zone and that's what we did," Hedman said. "We kept shooting the puck and that was the big difference after the second period."
After two pucks hit the crossbar and post of Lindback's net, Boyd Gordon's shot finally found the back of his cage at 8:20 of the final frame to give Edmonton a 4-3 edge. Taylor Hall then gave the Oilers some insurance on a re-direct of Andrew Ference's shot for a 5-3 game with 9:30 left in regulation for their first win on the 2014 calendar year.
UP NEXT – The Bolts will close out their Western Canada swing Tuesday with a game versus the Winnipeg Jets. They will then return to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for a game versus the Metropolitan Division's Washington Capitals, before three more games away from the Times Forum against the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.
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