The Lightning found themselves looking down the wrong end of some pretty daunting statistics as they entered the third period tonight, trailing the Dallas Stars by a goal and intent on picking up a new franchise record of 26 home wins. They came into tonight with a record of 1-18-2 when trailing after two periods. On the other end, the Stars held a 21-2-5 when leading after two.
What was an entertaining back-and-forth game throughout began quietly, but a crazy three minutes in the middle of the first period changed that.
The Lightning got on the board first at 12:59, with Anton Stralman converting on the power play with an assist from Ondrej Palat.
About a minute and a half later, Dallas answered with a power play goal of their own at 14:24 from Tyler Seguin, who was not expected to play tonight. He got helpers from Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn.
Just about 90 later at 15:52, the Lightning regained the lead on a goal by Nikita Kucherov, on assists from Palat and Braydon Coburn, registering his first point as a member of the Lightning.
The opening period ended with the Lightning up 2-1
At 3:52 of the second, the Stars tied the game again on Seguin's second goal of the night, this time getting the assist from John Klingberg.
They took the lead at 11:03 when Vernon Fiddler scored on assists from Alex Goligoski and Colton Sceviour.
They carried that lead into the third period where the unpleasant numbers listed above waited to be validated and added to.
The Lightning had other ideas and tied the game again at the 3:40 mark, with Alex Killorn scoring on assists from Ryan Callhan and Victor Hedman.
"Yeah, again the second period wasn't good for us. I don't know why, but in the room we had confidence to come back and we did and showed how strong the team is." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
They re-took the lead at 5:31 with Hedman scoring thanks to assistance from Tyler Johnson and Palat.
Dallas intensified their attack with about five minutes remaining and it fell on goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to make some incredible saves to preserve the one-goal lead.
Things got scary when Hedman was called for Hooking at 18:43. With goaltender Jhonas Enroth pulled for an extra skater, the Lightning found themselves facing a 6-on-4 in the final two minutes for the second game in a row. Brian Boyle provided insurance for the Bolts at 19:37 when he scored shorthanded and unassisted, from his knees no less, into the empty net to stretch the lead to two.
That insurance would prove necessary when Fiddler scored his second of the evening at 19:57 on assists from Benn and Sceviour.
Vasilevskiy would handle the one shot generated from the ensuing faceoff to finish off the improbable comeback.
"We just turned the pucks over and they tok advantage of their opportunities. They have such good offensive power and they showed us tonight." - Benn
"I guess the only difference (during the third period) was that they went in the net for us. I don't think we really changed. We felt we could come back in this game. We felt we were getting chances. We didn't change our style of play. We played the same way." - Cooper
The Lightning now head to the road for crucial games against division foes and playoff contenders, with a stop in Montreal on Tuesday and Boston on Thursday. They'll return home next Saturday to host Winnipeg.
- The Lightning and Stars conclude their regular season series with Tampa Bay getting the 2-0 sweep.
- The Lightning are now 4-11-1-2 all-time at home against Dallas.
- Steven Stamkos had his latest scoring streak snapped at four games (four goals, two assists)
- Another streak coming to an end was the penalty kill's perfect run of three straight home games.
- On the bright side, however, the power play has converted at least once in each of the past five games at Amalie Arena.
- The Lightning have now played 33 games at home and 33 on the road. This was the 17th home sellout this season.
- The Lightning honored Brooke Thomas as the 33rd Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight's game. Thomas, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to The Thomas Promise Foundation. The 11 year-old Pasco County school student is making a difference and serving as a positive influence to her peers in the Tampa Bay community. After Thomas's mother discovered that she was running out of her lunch money quickly to feed other students who were hungry, her parents started The Thomas Promise Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on feeding children in the community. Thomas volunteers her time every day after school and at special events hosted by the foundation. When the foundation was started in 2012, it served five schools and 200 children, but with Thomas's unwavering dedication The Thomas Promise Foundation now serves up to 18 schools and approximately 860 youth. Thomas was recently designated grand marshall of the Zephyrhills Founder's Day Parade for being one of the "Women: Making a Difference", this year's parade theme. The Thomas Promise Foundation was recently recognized on the Bay News 9 "Everyday Hero" segment and awarded the 2014 Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce Diamond Award for exemplary contributions to the community by a non-profit organization.