Lightning Battle Back vs. Blues
Overtime a Sour Note for Tampa Bay
Despite fighting back from a two-goal deficit with one period remaining to play, the Tampa Bay Lightning saw their comeback dissolve in 27 seconds of the overtime period when Brad Boyes scored to give the St. Louis Blues the win, 4-3, tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Period one was a fairly uneventful 20 minutes, save for a four-minute double minor penalty called on Josef Melichar for high sticking at 3:01. Tampa Bay was able to kill off the shorthanded situation, allowing the Blues only one shot on Lightning netminder Karri Ramo.
St. Louis finished the period outshooting the Lightning, 10-4, but the clubs went to the locker room with the game still scoreless.
The pace picked up a bit in period two, but the advantage swung to the visiting Blues. At 5:43, St. Louis broke out of their own zone on a rare four-on-one and they made it pay as veteran Keith Tkachuk finished the odd-man rush with his 19th goal of the season.
At 8:01, the referee’s whistle sounded and the music wasn’t sweet to Tampa Bay, as Vaclav Prospal and newcomer Noah Welch, playing in his first game for the Lightning, were both sent to the penalty box simultaneously; Prospal for interference and Welch for hooking. The two penalties set the Blues up with a five-on-three for two full minutes.
Matters got worse 59 seconds later when Adam Hall
joined them in the crowded penalty box when he was called for hooking.
With the two-man advantage, St. Louis got their second goal of the game at 9:25. Ramo made several stops on the edge of the crease but the puck zipped to his left, where Andy McDonald popped it in the open side of the net. McDonald would complete the night with four points, a goal and three assists. He hit the score sheet on each goal the Blues scored tonight.
Almost as potent for the Blues was their leading scorer, Brad Boyes, who finished the night with two assists and the game-winning overtime goal.
At the close of period two, Tampa Bay was outshot, 23-14, and trailed 2-0.
But then the Lightning woke up.
Just 3:28 into the final stanza, with St. Louis forward Patrik Berglund off the ice for hooking, Tampa Bay got on the scoreboard when Vincent Lecavalier
’s pass found Martin St. Louis
camped behind the Blues defense and all alone in front of Blues netminder Chris Mason. St. Louis backhanded the puck over Mason and the Lightning had cut the lead to 2-1. The goal was number 23 for St. Louis and Steven Stamkos
also earned an assist.
Less than three minutes later, St. Louis re-established a two-goal advantage when David Backes scored for the Blues at 6:10.
At 12:10, the Lightning bounced back with their second goal of the period, a hard shot from Matt Pettinger that slipped past Mason and under the crossbar. Evengy Artyukhin and Jeff Halpern assisted on the goal, Pettinger’s third of the season.
The game remained 3-2 Blues until, with Ramo on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Steven Stamkos
unloaded a one-timer from the right point that weaved through traffic in front of the Blues net and found the twine in back of Mason with just sixteen seconds to play before the final buzzer.
The four-on-four overtime period began, but it didn’t last long, as virtually all of the twenty-seven seconds were played in the Lightning end, with Boyes ending it with a shot from the left faceoff circle that caught the upper far corner of the Tampa bay net.
So, it was one point for Tampa Bay and some well-deserved pride for fighting back in the third to get the game to overtime.
Ramo finished with 32 saves, many of the very challenging kind, while Mason had an easier time of it at the other end of the ice, stopping 20 of 23 shots.
“It was actually kind of a boring game through two periods; not much passion,” Interim Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “But in the third, we picked it up.”
Tampa Bay will look to pick it up again, and maybe play spoiler, as the Carolina Hurricanes visit on Saturday night during their push for a playoff spot.
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