TAMPA – Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said he wanted to test out some new players the next time a shootout came around.
He got to do just that, 13 times in all, as the Lightning defeated the New York Islanders, 3-2, in the thirteenth round of the shootout Thursday.
"They're fun, especially in front of the home fans to get a win like that," Ben Bishop said. "They made a couple good shots, but our guys did a good job of scoring goals tonight."
While the Bolts did earn two crucial points to protect their spot among the Top-3 in the Atlantic Division, they were unsatisfied with the victory that now gives them points in 10 consecutive contests.
"First and foremost, we got two points and that's what we needed out of this game," head coach Jon Cooper said. "They're not all a Picasso, but we have to be better."
"There was no question that our first two periods weren't good enough," Ryan Callahan said. "But I thought we responded in the third."
A 5-on-3 penalty kill at the beginning of the third gave the Lightning a jolt and minutes later Callahan scored his second goal of the night to tie the game at two. It eventually led to the shootout, as Tampa Bay played better overall during the last 15 minutes of regulation.
After a scoreless first period, three goals were exchanged in the second frame. Less than a minute into the middle period Callahan tipped-in a Radko Gudas shot for a 1-0 lead at 29 seconds. Valtteri Filppula also picked up a secondary assist to extend his point streak to 10 games (four goals, 10 assists).
"That's usually where I score my goals, close to the net and in those dirty areas, and I got two tonight that way," Callahan said.
It took less than two minutes for the Islanders to even the game at one. Rookie Ryan Strome was credited with the game-tying goal at 1:33 after it bounced off Bishop's shoulder/back and into his cage.
Then right before the Isles took a one-goal lead the Lightning were given a power play. Unable to score on the opportunity, Bishop was also very lucky after he tried to clear a puck from his zone in the right corner of the boards. However the puck was intercepted by New York in the neutral zone and dumped into the empty net. Bishop's saving grace was that an Islander had stepped offsides when making a line change, as it was ruled no goal.
In the end though, the Islanders' offside mistake was erased when they potted a goal at 9:17. Frans Nielsen sent a pass from behind the net to Matt Donovan. Donovan found an open hole and squeezed the puck by Bishop for a 2-1 lead.
It was all Callahan, again 5:50 into the third period to even the game at two. First Callahan fought off an Islander to keep the puck in New York's zone and then scored off of Eric Brewer's rebound for his second goal of the night.
"I grabbed the puck and gave it to Brewer, and then I headed to the front of the net," Callahan said. "I knew Brewer was going to shoot it and with a little bit of luck the rebound came to me and I put it away."
Callahan's goal was the last on either side through the third period forcing overtime. Unable to score in the extra frame it took 13 rounds of a shootout to solidify a win. Three out of five scorers in the shootout – Mike Kostka, Matt Carle, Sami Salo – were defensemen.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay packs their bags for back-to-back games against Atlantic Division rivals, the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings Saturday and Sunday. The Lightning lost their most recent contest versus the Sabres, 3-1, but defeated the Red Wings, 4-2, in the last game before Olympic break in February. Next week the Bolts open-up a six-game homestand.