TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning learned that adjustments can create immediate results Tuesday night in a 5-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
After recognizing a weak-spot in their special team’s play last game, the Lightning made the necessary changes and saw its affects, stopping the Kings on all five of their power-play opportunities, including a four-minute double-minor at the beginning of the second period.
“It was good for our confidence on the penalty kill,” Victor Hedman said. “Sometimes you have to kill-off a four-minute double-minor. If you can kill that off they may lose some momentum and we can gain some. That was huge for us and a turning point in the game.”
Ben Bishop’s return in net also brought a boost of confidence for Tampa Bay, as he continued to roll in his fourth straight win. Bishop allowed just one goal on 31 shots in the contest.
“Bishop has played how we need him to play to win games,” head coach John Cooper said. “Our goaltending has been really solid in these first six games. If you’re going to get goaltending like that, you’re really going to improve your chances to win and Bishop has done that for us.”
With a well-rounded Kings’ team, the Bolts knew they had to act quickly and by that they meant 19 seconds into the start of the first period. Sami Salo took a shot from the point, which Malone re-directed, for a 1-0 lead. On the Lightning’s first goal, Martin St. Louis tallied his 900th career point in a Tampa Bay sweater. He also extended his point streak to four straight games.
“To be able to continue to excel for as long as he’s played in this league, especially at his size, it’s remarkable,” Cooper said. “To be able to have a front row seat, I know I’m catching it in the latter half of his career, but I’m glad I’m here to watch this.”
Twelve minutes later, Teddy Purcell, who has been receiving accolades from Cooper for his play to start the season, increased the Lightning’s lead to 2-0. Skating down the left side of Los Angeles’ zone, Purcell wristed a shot past netminder Jonathan Quick at 12:44.
Before the end of the period Bishop took a shot off his face mask area and immediately dropped to the ice. After a quick look from trainer Tommy Mulligan, Bishop regained his composure and continued in net.
Early into the middle frame, Tampa Bay’s penalty kill was put to the test with Salo in the box for a high-sticking double-minor. Yet the Lightning responded, not allowing the Kings’ to tally on the four-minute man-advantage.
Before the end of the second, St. Louis added his first goal and second point of the contest at 16:22. Steven Stamkos took the initial shot, which bounced away from Quick. St. Louis picked up the puck and banked the rebound for a 3-0 lead. On the Lightning’s third goal of the game blueliner Andrej Sustr picked up first career NHL point on the secondary assist.
Immediately after the goal, Quick was replaced with Kings’ back-up goalie Ben Scrivens. Quick allowed three goals on 17 shots through 36:22 of ice time.
The Kings broke the Lightning’s chances of a shutout at 10:27 of the final period. Slava Voynov scored his first goal of the season down the right-hand side of the Bolts’ zone to cut the lead to 3-1.
The top line got one back for the Bolts though, as Stamkos, Ryan Malone and St. Louis worked a perfect passing play to regain the three-goal lead. Stamkos led the rush down the left side and sent a pass to Malone in the slot. Malone quickly converted the puck to St. Louis who finished for a 4-1 score with seven minutes remaining.
Tampa Bay was not done yet with their finally tally at 8:39. With a lost puck in front of Scrivens’ net, Los Angeles tried to clear it, but Ondrej Palat came up with the rebound, his second goal of the season, for a 5-1 score to finish the Bolts evening in their fourth win in five games.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay is expected to practice at 11 a.m. Wednesday in preparation for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Thursday’s game is the second of three tilts this week and the third of a season-long, seven-game homestand for the Lightning. The Bolts’ round out the week with a contest Saturday against the Boston Bruins in their second meeting of the year.