It was a goal explosion and it was a long time coming, but when the goals began they came in bunches as the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up their western road trip with a win tonight in Calgary.
The Flames have been known for their offensive output, but the Lightning gave them more than they could handle, chasing one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, Miikka Kiprusoff, after two periods and five goals on 19 shots.
Tampa Bay struck first when Evengy Artyukhin collected the puck on a turnover in front of the Calgary net. His quick wrist shot beat Kiprusoff at 11:07 of the first period. The unassisted goal was Artyukhin’s fifth of the season.
Calgary came back to tie the contest before the first stanza came to an end when Jarome Iginla stuffed the puck past Lightning netminder Mike McKenna while Lukas Krajicek sat in the penalty box for interference. The power play goal for the Flames concluded the first period scoring but the 1-1 tie would prove to be just a warm-up for a wild second period to come.
The red light behind both netminders was flashing with regularity as the second period featured seven goals combined, including four in just over a three-minute span.
Martin St. Louis got the goal parade started at 1:19 of the second when his shot from the right face-off circle beat Kiprusoff. The goal, assisted by Steven Stamkos and Mark Recchi, came under a delayed penalty call against the Flames. The score was St. Louis’s 21st of the season and reopened a Lightning lead, 2-1.
But the reopened lead closed soon enough as Calgary claimed the next three goals; the first by Craig Conroy and the second, on a power play by Calgary’s leading goal scorer, Mike Cammalleri at 13:02. Seventy seven seconds later, the Flames stretched their lead to two goals as forward Jamie Lundmark scored to make the score 4-2, in favor of Calgary.
Tampa Bay has seen a number of their two goal leads evaporate over the last few weeks, but tonight, it was the Lightning’s time to turn the tables and play comeback kids, and they did just that, starting 38 seconds later when Tampa’s leading goal scorer, Vincent Lecavalier, got his first of two goals on the evening as he knocked home a rebound of a shot from the high slot by Cory Murphy. Josef Melichar also received an assist.
Steven Stamkos got the tying goal just moments later as he stood alone in front of the Calgary net and poked home a centering pass by Mark Recchi. The goal was number 13 on the season for Stamkos, and his sixth score over seven games. St. Louis picked up his second point on the night with an assist on the Stamkos goal.
With the period winding down, Vaclav Prospal gave Tampa Bay the lead, 5-4, when he netted the first of what would be three power play goals in five extra man opportunities for the Bolts. Prospal’s 16th goal on the season, a rebound that he chipped over a fallen Kiprusoff, was assisted by Gary Roberts and Steve Eminger.
The goal-filled period ended with Tampa Bay producing nine shots on the Calgary net, four of which counted on the scoreboard.
Calgary was not going down easy, however, as they tied the score at 5-5 just 14 seconds into the third period when Iginla picked up his second goal of the game, a blast from the slot that sailed over McKenna’s glove. The score was Iginla’s 400th career goal.
But tonight, Tampa Bay was determined to keep battling and the Bolts grabbed the lead for good at 2:39 as Ryan Malone followed Recchi’s shot and beat Calgary’s substitute netminder, Curtis McElhinney on the rebound. Malone’s power play score was his 22nd of the season and was also assisted by Lecavalier.
With Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr in the penalty box serving a four-minute double minor for high sticking, Lecavalier, the recipient of the high stick, made Calgary pay when he scored Tampa Bay’s seventh goal of the game, the third power play goal and his second goal of the night, just 15 seconds into the extra-man opportunity. Lecavalier’s goal gave him a team high 27 for the season and was assisted by Recchi and Murphy.
Todd Bertuzzi would bring the Flames back to within one goal with just over three minutes remaining, but with McElhinney off the ice for the extra attacker, St. Louis gathered in a Recchi pass and aced a shot from the red line into the empty Calgary net to finish the scoring and finish the Flames, 8-6.
As the buzzer sounded, it also spelled the finish of the three game road trip, and what a way to finish: Both Lecavalier and St. Louis had two goals and an assist and Mark Recchi ended the night with an astounding five assists.
The win snapped a seven-game road losing streak for the Lightning, and they had a good time doing it.
“That was right out of the 80s,” St. Louis said. “A wide open game, a lot of goals, everybody got involved. It was a fun game to play.”
But, of course, it’s always fun when you win, and Tampa Bay, after the long trek home, will be seeking even more fun when they return to the St. Pete Times Forum to battle the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night; the opening game in a three-game homestand.
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
Martin St. Louis
2 - 1 TBL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 CGY
4 - 2 CGY
4 - 3 CGY
Martin St. Louis
4 - 4 Tie
5 - 4 TBL
5 - 5 Tie
6 - 5 TBL