Mathieu Garon and the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to come home for Christmas empty-handed.
Garon made 27 saves, including several key stops down the stretch and in overtime, as he helped the Lightning collect a point following a 2-1 loss in extra time to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Friday night.
Pavel Kubina scored the lone goal for Tampa Bay, which fell for the first time in extra frames since dropping a 3-2 contest in the shootout on Oct. 15 to the division-rival Panthers. Prior to Friday night, the Lightning had won each of their past six games that went past regulation. Matt Duchene notched the game-winner 3:38 into the overtime period for Colorado, beating Garon with a wrist shot from a sharp angle.
Colorado has now won four straight games overall and has collected victories in each of the past eight played at home, which stands as a franchise record. The Avalanche also moved above the .500 mark (18-7-1) for the first time since Nov. 10.
Ryan O’Reilly also scored for the home side and erased a one-goal deficit at 10:03 of the second to draw Colorado even and force overtime. He gathered a rebound out in front after an initial shot from Shane O’Brien and buried it past Garon for his eighth of the year.
Despite being held scoreless for nearly the entirety of the opening 20 minutes, Tampa Bay came out with a strong effort, generating a lot of puck possession in the offensive zone and getting shots through. It outshot its opponent 14-5 in the first period and had numerous chances to open the scoring, but was denied by a few unlucky bounces and some key saves from Avalanche net minder Jean-Sebastian Giguere.
First, Ryan Malone’s tip-in from in front of the net deflected off the crossbar midway through the first, before Giguere denied Dominic Moore from in close with over five minutes to play in the period. He then made a spectacular glove save on Martin St Louis in the first minute of overtime to deny the Lightning forward from finishing off an odd-man rush with Vincent Lecavalier.
Giguere finished the evening with 29 stops on 30 shots.“For us, we wanted to start on the right foot,” Lightning assistant Dan Lacroix said. “We got pucks deep and worked their D, so that’s just the way we wanted to start on the road.”
Garon was equally as impressive down at the other end.
His biggest save of the night came in the final minutes of regulation on a breakaway attempt by TJ Galiardi to keep the game tied at one and ensure the Lightning at least a point.
In the extra session, the Lightning net minder came up big again, falling on a puck after Paul Stastny hit the far post to ensure that play would resume, even after the goal horn sounded and fans began to cheer. The goal, however, was waved off after it was determined the puck never crossed the goal line.
Kubina opened the scoring and gave Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead after slipping what seemed to be a harmless shot through the legs of Giguere with 1:51 to go in the first.
“It was a great play by Marty,” Kubina said. “I just put it on net and luckily it went in.”
St. Louis now has points in two straight since returning from injury in the team’s last game on Wednesday at San Jose.
Friday’s game gave Tampa Bay points in three of its past four outings. The Lightning look to improve upon the mark as they open up a three-game home stand at the St. Pete Times Forum following the holiday weekend.
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