Game 31: Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in front of a crowd of 17,241 tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.

When a team is losing, like the Lightning have been, and they're losing games the same way almost every time, the way the Lightning have been, winning a game that they'd normally lose not only helps in the standings but could provide some much-needed psychological relief as well.

"It's huge. Huge. We played two terrific periods...What's been happening the last 10, 12 games, we've been playing great in most of them and having the chance to win in the third and something always happens...Everything looked like Groundhog Day again (tonight) and that's difficult for a team that's lacking confidence in those moments. And you only get confidence by doing it, by actually getting results. You can't get confidence because you tell yourself you're confident." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

The Lightning got things started at the 5:11 mark when Teddy Purcell scored on the power play with help from Steve Downie and Dominic Moore.

Spending much of the last seven minutes of the period shorthanded due to penalties on Purcell, Matt Gilroy and Moore, the Lightning surrendered the lead at 19:27 when Matt Stajan scored on assists from Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos, ending the period tied at one.

In the second, The Flames took the lead just after the Moore penalty expired on a goal by Jarome Iginla from Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester at 1:57.

Tasked with having to rally, the Lightning pressed the Flames. Hard work in a scrum in front of the Calgary net payed off in a tying goal by Tom Pyatt from Ryan Shannon and Blair Jones at 10:10. Reenergized, Ryan Malone beat flames goalie Mikka Kiprusoff two minutes later to reclaim the lead. Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman assisted.

The Lightning doubled the lead at 19:26 when Nate Thompson scored with helpers from Dana Tyrell and Hedman. Thompson was bearing down on Kiprusoff from the left wing and appeared to lose control of the puck but recovered enough to get off a shot that found a hole.

"To be honest with you I don't know if the players saw that, but in my mind, it's 'finally, we get one of the goals that the other team's been getting against us the last 12 games'. They hit a post here and there, which is what we've been getting. So, you know, you kind of feel some of those breaks turning our way instead of always turning the other way." - Boucher

The Lightning came out to start the third more tentative than they had been in the first two periods. In what has been the textbook method of beating the Lightning lately, Calgary seized on that and came out strong. They trimmed the lead to one with a goal at the :59 mark, when Rene Bourque scored on a breakaway with an assist from Derek Smith. They maintained intense offensive pressure, peppering Bolts netminder Mathieu Garon with seven shots in the opening three and a half minutes. Meanwhile, the Lightning were unable to register a shot on goal until 12:35 into the period.

As the Lightning struggled to hang on and close the game out, the Flames tied it again on a power play goal from Jokinen with assists from Alex Tanguay and Smith at 16:48. Regulation ended with the teams knotted at four.

Fans who feared the Lightning might have been relieved and satisfied to get a point out of the affair went home pleasantly surprised shortly afterward when Stamkos took advantage of an odd man rush in transition, crashed the net and scored the game winner at the :30 mark, with assists from Eric Brewer and Downie.

The Lightning play their next three games on the road against Western Conference opponents and will be in action again Saturday night, December 17, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Game notes:

  • As John mentioned in the preview, there are a lot of connections between the Tampa Bay and Calgary organizations, aside from meeting in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals; Calgary GM Jay Feaster, defenseman Cory Sarich and forward Alex Tanguay all used to be with Tampa Bay, while Bolts assistant coach Wayne Fleming and forward Martin St.Louis are former Flames.
  • One Lightning player who might be looking forward to the road trip: Steven Stamkos, who leads the NHL in goals against Western Confernece teams at 0.83 per game.
  • Stamkos is tied for the league lead in goals scored with 19.
  • Moore's assist on Purcell's goal gives him a four-game scoring streak.
  • Is the power play waking up? Maybe, The Lightning have now notched at least one power play goal in their last three games.
  • This is the first time the Lightning have tallied three goals in a period since November 26th against the Florida Panthers (also in the second period).
  • Matt Gilroy left the game with an as-yet undisclosed "lower body injury" and did not return.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Bob Williams as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames. Williams, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to his charity of choice, Our Troops Online. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Williams returned home 30 years ago from serving overseas and as a result of his own experience, made it his mission to send care packages to deployed soldiers serving in the American armed forces. He established Our Troops Online, which over the past three decades, has assembled and distributed more than 200,000 care packages to the brave men and women protecting our freedom. Every penny raised from the initiative is put towards the organization’s $197,000 yearly postage bill or the purchase of items requested by the troops on a daily basis. Six years ago, when Our Troops Onlineran short of funds required for purchase of postage and various items requested by the troops, Williams cashed in his own personal life insurance policies to ensure every request would be fulfilled. With this act alone, along with numerous other ongoing contributions through Our Troops Online, Williams continues to serve as an individual who puts the needs of others far ahead of his own.
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