The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Nashville Predators 4-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday night.
With the recent run of injuries that depleted their defensive corps and robbed them of their best overall player in Steven Stamkos, coupled with an annoying scoring slump, the team has actually done pretty well while hunkered down in survival mode. They remain in the thick of the playoff hunt despite all the adversity, while waiting impatiently to get back some of the things they've lost. Those days of waiting might be nearing an end.
"The last few games I think we might have struggled a little bit to score but not for lack of trying. It was a nice night to kind of get a few for some guys. For us to get the lead and take them out of their comfort zone was nice." - Lightning forward Alex Killorn
"It was great to get a power play goal, it was great to get the lead and to have different guys chipping in, we are going to need that. FIf you want to win in this league you can't just be a one trick pony." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
Tonight, saw a veritable explosion of offense from the Bolts as they scored more than three goals (four, and all in the first two periods) for only the third time in their last eleven games. a stretch that has seen them get shut out three times.
The Lightning defense corps was bolstered by the return of Victor Hedman who returned to the lineup after missing the last six games with a lower body injury. Also, Jean-Philippe Cote made his first appearance with the Lightning, having been called up from Syracuse on Wednesday.
Hedman and Cote celebrated the occasion by assisting on the first goal of the night, scored by Killorn at 2:25.
At 19:06, the Bolts increased the lead to two on the power play when Sami Salo and Killorn found Martin St. Louis between the circles. The one-timer was ST. Louis' 350th goal as a member of the Lightning.
The score at the end of one was 2-0, Tampa Bay.
The Predators halved that lead at 6:36 of the second when Craig Smith scored just after a power play expired, assisted by Matt Cullen and Shea Weber.
Just under two minutes later, Valtteri Filppula came down the right boards and fed a trailing Teddy Purcell coming down the left side at 8:27. MAt Carle was credited with the secondary assist.
Nashville cut into the lead at 13:02 when Smith struck again, this time on the power play, assisted by Cullen and Ryan Ellis.
Less than a minute later, the Lightning answered with Richard Panik deflecting Eric Brewer's shot at 13:51. Andrej Sustr chipped in with the secondary assist.
At that point, starter Carter Hutton was relieved in the Nashville net by Marek Mazanec. Hutton allowed four goals on 14 shots for the night while Mazanec was perfect against the 19 shots he faced.
It was too little too late, as both teams traded zeroes in the third.
For his part, Lightning goalie Anders Lindback stopped 28 of 30 to get the win, in spite of frequently being left in difficult situations by his defense. Two turnovers right in front of the net in the first period, another in the third and a shorthanded breakaway in the second all could have been converted by the Predators, any of which could have drastically affected the outcome.
"He's deserved better from us, for us to get four for him and for him to shut the door like he did, he's deserved this. He was on today, he's played extremely well." - Cooper
The Lightning will be in action again on Saturday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
- The Lightning now have a three-game winning streak, their longest since a four-game streak ended with a loss to Boston on November 11.
- Cote earned his first NHL point with his assist on Killorn's goal.
- This was the Lightning's first win at home against Nashville since November 21, 2008.
- Radko Gudas came into the game leading all rookies in the NHL with 117 hits.
- St. Louis has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his last eight games.
- Since the disastrous west coast road trip in November (0-3-1), the Lightning have posted a record of 7-3-2.
- The Lightning honored Cindy Ross as the 17th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Ross, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Starting Right, Now. Ross directly serves and empowers others through acquiring funding to help the Florida Community Loan Fund. As the Community Development Loan Officer, she has been able to obtain loan capital for a charter school serving farmworker children, a private school serving disabled children, a community health center for low income residents and affordable housing for low-income families. Ross restores faith in humanity by helping others who have been neglected by people they used to trust. A girl scout for 12 years, Ross is a true believer in helping as many people that she possibly can. She was a foster parent for many years to four children. She likes to listen and encourage others to create a harmonious life for themselves in their mind, body and spirit. Ross believes a life of faith and love of service is the antidote to a life of doubt, fear and pain.