TAMPA, Fla. – A six-round shootout win was the perfect way to define the Tampa Bay Lightning’s fight through a month of being Steven Stamkos-less.
It took overtime and six rounds in the shootout for the Lightning to defeat the Detroit Red Wings, 2-1, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday.
“I feel like we’re playing the score pretty well,” Louis said. “Obviously Ben Bishop is the backbone of our success, but I feel like we hang in there and find ways. Two weeks from now that game’s going to be a win, you’re not going to dissect it.”
With the win, the injury-plagued Lightning team is now 6-5-3 since losing Stamkos to injury on Nov. 11. Thursday's game was the 4th-consecutive game Tampa Bay has earned at least one point in a game.
Both teams depleted by injuries and missing key offensive contributors, the Lightning and Detroit Red Wings kept the game close as each team was only able to put up one goal apiece through 60 minutes. The two were also backed up by outstanding goaltending in Bishop and Jonas Gustavsson.
Yet Tampa Bay’s captain answered the call in the Bolts time of need and avoided losing for the fourth straight time in overtime/shootouts. At the same time, Detroit saw themselves fall for the ninth in a row in the same situation.
“Tonight you could argue we were lucky to make it through regulation, Bishop made some huge saves for us to force overtime,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “And Gustavsson was a monster tonight. It was no surprise it took 12 shooters for one guy to score. It was kind of the way the night went.”
Bishop was a victim of an unfortunate bounce at 15:04 of the first when the Red Wings jumped ahead to a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Kyle Quincey took the initial shot at Bishop, which the Lightning goalie managed to stop, but he could not come up with the rebound. Quincey immediately spotted the loose puck and batted in for the tally.
With 15 minutes remaining in the middle frame and Mark Barberio in the penalty box for holding, St. Louis managed a shorthanded breakaway opportunity, but his shot went wide of Red Wings’ goaltender Gustavsson’s net.
Only 43.7 seconds remained in the second, but Nikita Kucherov knotted the game at one. Seeing a loose puck he grabbed it, skated up the ice and took a shot from the top of the slot for his second tally in as many games. The game-tying goal eventually stood through the last 20 minutes of play to force the Lightning’s third straight overtime tilt.
“Thompson and Brown forechecked well,” Kucherov said. “It allowed me to get into middle in the offensive zone and shoot the puck. Coach told me if I get the puck to shoot it at the net and you’ll score and I scored.”
No results surfaced through overtime, despite having more than a minute of time carrying over from regulation on the man-advantage brining the Bolts to their second consecutive shootout. Much like the pace of scoring in regulation it took six rounds of a shootout to decipher a winner, which came on St. Louis’ tally for a 2-1 final.
“St. Louis shot in the first three the other night in the shootout,” Cooper said. “I just thought it was a good idea not to have him shoot in the first three, as he’s an instinctual shooter, it was just one of those gut feelings. I’m glad though I went to him, it was big for us.”
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay will practice in Brandon tomorrow morning before kicking-off a three-game road trip this weekend. New Jersey will be on the docket first for a 7 p.m. contest on Saturday followed by their second game in as many nights on Sunday in a re-match versus Detroit. The Lightning then close out their road swing on Tuesday in their first meeting of the 2013-14 campaign against the New York Islanders.