For most of a rare afternoon practice session Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning worked on getting shots on net, creating traffic in front of goal, redirecting and rebounding pucks.
The extra work paid off a day later against the Minnesota Wild.
“I thought it was an outstanding response, to be honest, especially the kind of travel tribulations we had getting out of Toronto,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We didn’t get in until 4:30 in the morning [Friday], and just to come back this quick a turnaround, I thought we had lots of energy.”
Earlier this season, Tampa Bay fell 7-2 in Minnesota, its worst loss of the season to date.
The Lightning (14-6-2, 30 points) got their revenge in the rematch with a sellout crowd of 19,204 watching at Amalie Arena.
“That last game against (Tampa Bay), I knew it would have no barring, no effect, and what this game would resemble would be nothing even close to it,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “We knew they were going to be desperate. They played a good game.”
Killorn’s goal, his sixth of the season, came at 18:07 of the second period. As Stralman’s shot whizzed by, the puck hit Killorn’s skate, creating enough of a deflection to beat Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper (26 saves).
“Just in the right place at the right time,” Killorn said. “It went off my skate and that’s just the way things are going right now for me.”
Stralman and Ryan Callahan assisted on the goal, which put the Bolts up 2-1.
Killorn has tallied in four straight games.
“Alex has been hurt on and off here for a little while, and I thought his first game back, he was kind of getting a feel for being back,” Cooper said. “To be honest, he might be our best forward since then. He’s really competed hard. Karma’s catching him.”
The Lightning concluded a brutal stretch of 10 games in 17 days Saturday night. With the victory, the Bolts finish 6-3-1 over those 10.
“We practiced probably twice in two and a half weeks,” Cooper said. “It gets tough when you’re just playing games and you’ve got to rest. You can see at times your habits slipping a little bit when you get on the ice sometimes at practice. I thought we had a really good (practice Friday). We had it later in the afternoon, and I think that kind of set us up for (Saturday).”
Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop had another successful start, stopping 30 of 31 shots to improve to 12-3-2 on the season. The Wild were awarded a power play over the final 1:17 of the game and pulled their goalie for a two-man advantage, but Bishop came up big for the Bolts, making a great leg save on the back post in the closing seconds to seal the win.
“It was a little bit of a panic situation, but we pulled it out somehow,” Stralman said. “Bishop made some really nice saves and blocked some shots and did all we needed to do.”
Bishop has yielded two shots or less in five of his last six starts.
Trailing 1-0 and with the Bolts looking for a spark, they found it by way of their first power play of the night when Minnesota’s Ryan Carter was whistled for hooking. Steven Stamkos scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season, skating into the right circle and snapping a wrist shot through Kuemper.
Jason Garrison and Stralman were credited with assists, Stralman picking up two on the night against the Wild.
“Sometimes you just shoot the puck on net and good things happen,” Stamkos said. “Cally, obviously, with a great screen, so that was good for us.”
Zach Parise put Minnesota (11-8-0, 22 points) ahead first, scoring 3:11 into the second period.
A giveaway by Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio near the Bolts’ blue line set up the first goal of the game. Thomas Vanek got the puck on the doorstep and patiently waited before sending a cross-crease pass to Parise, who one-timed his shot past Bishop.
The goal, which gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead, was Parise’s seventh of the season.
“I think the difference was really minus-one on special teams, and, in the end, you can’t come in on a team like that, score one goal and expect to win,” Yeo said.
The Bolts improve to 2-1-0 when wearing their black alternate jerseys.
The Lightning get a chance to catch their breath with three days off before hosting the New York Rangers on Wednesday, November 26, the second game in a three-game homestand for the Bolts.