NEW YORK – If being sharp was a concern for Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Ben Bishop heading into Tuesday's bout with the New York Rangers, he proved otherwise in a 33-save performance and a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Madison Square Garden.
"Ben was probably our best player tonight," head coach Jon Cooper said. "When you're going on the road and trying to win a hockey game it all starts with goaltending and he gave us a chance to win tonight."
It had been a little over a week since Bishop was sidelined with a sprained right wrist, but he picked up right where he left off in his 23rd win of the season. Despite missing the past four-plus games, Bishop kept pace in the league for wins, as he still sits tied at second in the NHL in that category.
Tampa Bay also played a more disciplined game with just two penalties on the night compared to six in Monday's loss in Columbus. They're now 5-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
Brad Richards opened up scoring in the first period at 11:55. Bishop made the initial save on a shot from the blue line and the two rebounds thereafter. Richards however found the loose puck and scored for the 1-0 lead.
Then after exiting for the locker room during the opening frame, Victor Hedman may have been a cause of concern, but by the start of the second he was the source of an offensive spark for the Lightning.
Hedman knotted the game at one with a slap shot from the blue line on the power play at 1:10. Then nine seconds later Nikita Kucherov gave the Bolts a 2-1 lead when he scored on a breakaway and some trickery with his stick in front of Henrik Lundqvist's crease.
The two goals separated by nine seconds tied a franchise record for shortest time between goals for Tampa Bay set by Dave Andreychuk and Freddie Modin a decade ago on January 9 of the 2003-04 season.
"It was a productive nine seconds for us," Cooper said. "Kucherov, I don't know how he gets open like that, it's like pucks fall out of the sky. He has been a little bit snake bitten on those breakaways, but I guess if you get enough of those one is bound to go in and we're just fortunate that one did."
It was Kucherov's third game-winning goal in 23 games this season.
UP NEXT – The Lightning return to Tampa Bay Tuesday night and will exercise a day off on Wednesday. They will reconvene Thursday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum versus Metropolitan Division foe the New York Islanders for their second meeting this year, before facing the San Jose Sharks on Saturday again at home. The Bolts then close out their fifth game in seven nights Sunday in Carolina against the Hurricanes.