Losers in three of the last four and without a goal from Steven Stamkos in four straight games, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed someone to step up on Saturday night.
Enter Sean Bergenheim…and five of his teammates.
Six different Lightning skaters each had a goal and Dan Ellis turned back 19 shots as Tampa Bay earned a 6-5 win over the Colorado Avalanche at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Bergenheim put Tampa Bay up by three with the game-winning goal six minutes into the final period to help the Lightning stave off a late Colorado scoring flurry led by Brandon Yip and Milan Hejduk in the final two minutes of regulation.
Then, it was Ellis’ turn.
With the Avalanche knocking on the door trying to force overtime, Ellis came up with his biggest save of the night, stopping David Jones from point-blank range to preserve the win for Tampa Bay, 3-1-0 in its last four games at home.
“I think we played extremely well the entire game,” Ellis said. “It wasn’t until the end when they got a couple of chances there and made it close, but we hung on for the win and that’s the most important thing.”
Nate Thompson opened the scoring, and Martin St. Louis, Mattias Ritola and Simon Gagne each had second-period goals for the Lightning, who played their final game at home before leaving on a three-game road trip through Western Canada beginning Tuesday night in Calgary.
Colorado has lost five of the last six, including three straight on the road to Southeast Division opponents. The Avalanche fell to Atlanta on Tuesday before dropping the first half of a back-to-back set last night in Carolina.
“They knew that we played last night, so obviously they were trying to get us a little bit behind the eight ball,” Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said. “We just weren’t ready to start on time tonight.”
Philippe Dupuis, Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene scored for Colorado. Goaltender Peter Budaj made 33 saves on 39 shots.
Dupuis tied it at one, rushing up the right wing and wristing a shot through the legs of Ellis after Thompson put in the game’s first goal with a put-back off a deflection at 7:14. It was Thompson’s 10th point of the season, which tied a career-high.
Ritola extended the lead to 3-1 after chipping in Johan Harju’s first career NHL assist out in front. The goal came just 52 seconds after St. Louis regained Tampa Bay’s one-goal advantage with a backhand through the slot while defended from behind.
“We made some mistakes, but it was a good win,” St. Louis said.
Duchene cashed in his eighth of the season to cut the lead to one after putting back a rebound, but Gagne’s wrist shot with the man advantage at 11:07 made it 4-2.
Gagne, who returned to the lineup on Tuesday and scored the game-deciding goal that same night in a 4-3 overtime win in Toronto, has five points in his last three games. Teddy Purcell reached a career-high mark with his 13th assist of the season on the goal.
Stastny’s goal to open the third period brought the Avalanche to within one. He one-timed a shot from the low crease to complete and odd-man rush with Kevin Shattenkirk. The assist extended Shattenkirk’s point streak to nine games, the longest active streak among NHL rookies.
“They were pressing,” St. Louis added. “They had some good pressure that they put on us when we were up by a couple goals. We have to improve on that.”
Malone put Tampa Bay’s second straight power-play goal in the net at 9:06, giving him four goals with the man advantage in the last six games.
Bergenheim’s tip-in followed to make it 6-3 at 15:55, and a pair of goals by Yip and Hejduk 1:05 apart closed the gap, but a big save by Ellis in the waning seconds ensured the Lightning victory.
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