A three-goal deficit late in the final period is typically a tough task for any team to overcome.
Not the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Victor Hedman scored twice, and Sami Salo scored the equalizer while on the power play with just 44 seconds to play to send the game into overtime, before the Bolts ultimately fell to the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Still, Tampa Bay picked up a crucial point in the standings, although the team’s winless streak did reach five games following the defeat as Tampa Bay dropped to 6-5-1 on the season.
“You got to earn every night,” Martin St. Louis said. “We didn’t start earning it until the third and obviously we were able to grind a point out of it, so that’s a positive.”
With Montreal clinging to a 3-2 lead with under a minute to play in regulation, a late power play sparked the Lightning effort after Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec was sent off for a tripping call.
Salo’s shot from the point deflected off the skate of Montreal defenseman Raphael Diaz and into the net past Carey Price to pull Tampa Bay even 3-3 at 19:16 of the third.
The goal came just 59 seconds after Hedman’s second of the night brought the Lightning to within one with 1:43 left to play.
Prior to that, Hedman sparked the rally and cut into the three-goal deficit beginning at 14:04 of the third after tapping home a feed from Tom Pyatt to make it 3-1.
“We told ourselves to go out there and leave it out there,” Hedman said. “We realized how hard you have to play in this league if you want to win, but I felt like we stayed with it and turned it around a little bit.”
Price made 21 saves throughout the game, then stopped three additional Lightning skaters in the shootout to lock up the two points for the Habs.
Brian Gionta, PK Subban and Travis Moen all had goals in regulation for Montreal, who got out to a 3-0 lead at 18:54 of the second before surrendering the advantage.
Lars Eller also added two assists for the Canadiens, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
David Desharnais notched the game-winner in the tiebreaker, beating Anders Lindback through the five-hole.
Lindback turned back 31 of 34 shots on the night.
“We came to win this hockey game and that’s what we did,” Montreal head coach Michel Therrien said. “We were almost perfect for 45 minutes, then we opened the door for them.”
Although Tampa Bay entered the contest with a league-best total of 43 goals scored on the season, tallies were hard to come by Tuesday night through nearly the first 60 minutes, despite getting a lot of good looks and holding even in the shots department with the Canadiens for the majority of the game.
Montreal, meanwhile, didn’t get going offensively until nearly the first period was over, thanks in large part to some acrobatic and sensational saves by Lindback.
The Lightning netminder was remarkable in the first, showing off his flexibility on a few stops to keep the game scoreless early on with Montreal attacking.
He covered up several shots from in close, including one off the post that ricocheted back towards the net, then robbed Andrei Markov of a wide-open net with the Bolts shorthanded just past the halfway point.
But with two Lightning players in the penalty box within the first period’s final minute, Gionta opened the scoring by tapping in a feed from Plekanec from the side of the net for a 1-0 lead.
It seemed to spark some momentum going into the second, as the Canadiens tacked on two more for a commanding lead at the second intermission.
Subban doubled the Habs’ advantage in the second when he sent in a wrist shot from beneath the blue line that found its way through traffic and beat Lindback at 8:21.
Montreal made it 3-0 with 66 seconds to go in the middle frame after Moen put one in from the top of the crease following a scrum in front of the net.
That held until late, when the Bolts scored three unanswered, then killed off a 4-on-3 shorthanded situation in the extra frame to send the game to the shootout.
“With six minutes left we came back with three goals,” Boucher added. “We have to build on the positive and that's extremely positive.”