Martin St. Louis and Antero Niittymaki earned the Lightning a point at a crucial stage in the season.
After three consecutive wins, what else would one expect.
St. Louis scored at 9:47 in the opening period and Niittymaki made 31 saves on 32 shots against as the Lightning climbed into the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference following a relentless effort in a 2-1 shootout loss to Anaheim.
“From the bench level I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “I think most of the guys were working hard. You know Anaheim won a cup [three] years ago and knocked off the Sharks last year. They’re a playoff savvy team and you know they were going to bring their ‘A’ game.”
Tampa Bay moved to 7-1-2 in its last 10 games at home, while Niittymaki extended his unbeaten streak in regulation to four consecutive games.
The Tampa Bay net minder has gone 4-1-1 in six straight starts, posting a 1.72 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
“I think it was a pretty good game. I think we’ve been playing pretty well lately, it’s just too bad we only got one point.”
James Wisniewski scored twice, including the shootout game-winner for the Ducks, who won for just the second time in their last five on the road.
St. Louis put Tampa Bay up 1-0 at 9:47 when he one-timed a feed from Steven Stamkos at the right circle. The goal marked the Lightning winger’s fifth point in six games, while the helper was Stamkos’ seventh point in his last five, as well as his 100th career point.
Wisniewski knotted things up on the power play at 6:36 in the second, ending Niittymaki’s shutout streak at 146:13, which spanned four games dating back to the third period on Jan. 21 against Toronto. The mark was the fourth-longest in team history.
Niittymaki and Anaheim net minder Jonas Hiller dueled for the remainder of regulation and through the extra session, forcing the contest into a shootout, which was Tampa Bay’s second in its last three games.
“I think we both played pretty well,” Hiller said. “It was fun to play that way as a goalie. It was very important. We just played a consistent game. Nothing fancy.”
Stamkos got the Lightning on the board with the first attempt, lifting a backhand past Hiller.
Ryan Getzlaf scored in the second round for the Ducks to even things up after Jeff Halpern failed to convert and Wisniewski clinched the game, while maintaining a perfect 2-for-2 career shootout record.
“He scored in the last one for us, so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “He did it again, so we might have to stick with him.”
“We were a little disappointed. We wanted those two points. It’s so tight [in the standings] that every point is huge for our team,” defenseman Matt Smaby said. “We were disappointed we didn’t get the second point, but we got one, and we’ve got a couple of games coming up here that are even bigger.”
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