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Return of the Find-a-Ways - Lightning win in overtime

It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective..

Anaheim Ducks v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Nikita Kucherov tied the game late in the third and Anthony Cirelli won it in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a dismal second period, two overturned goals, and a feisty Anaheim Ducks team to secure a fifth straight trip to the postseason with a 4-3 win on Thursday night. Alex Killorn and Ross Colton also scored for the Bolts while Adam Henrique (x2) and Troy Terry scored for Anaheim.

Brian Elliott came on in relief of Andrei Vasilevskiy and stopped all 12 shots he faced. Anthony Stolarz stopped 27 of 31 for the Ducks. Vasy had stopped 10 of 13 before he was pulled from the game by Coach Cooper. It was the first time Vasy had been pulled from a game since March 13th, 2018.

The reswizzled lines paid off early as Ross Colton banked a shot off of a Ducks defenseman and past Anthony Stolarz just three minutes into the game. For Colton it was his sixth goal in his last ten games. The sequence started with Ondrej Palat shooting off the rush. While his shot went wide, the Lightning were able to recover it and keep it moving, not allowing the Anaheim defense to get set, which left Colton all alone in front of the net.

Ross Colton (Steven Stamkos) 1-0 Tampa Bay

Despite a power play that didn’t connect it was only a matter of time until the Lightning would tally another goal. Alex Killorn scored his 22nd of the year on a nice shot off the post. Anthony Cirelli won a battle along the boards and saw Killorn open in the slot. His pass was on the stick and Killorn did not miss.

Alex Killorn (Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak) 2-0 Tampa Bay

The second period was more of the same early, but for Anaheim, throwing the puck at the net wasn’t a bad idea. After having only 11 shot attempts in the first period the Ducks threw the puck in the general direction of the net 21 tines. It paid off with three goals in a seven-minute span that all followed the same template. An untouched Anaheim player in front of the net was able to tick a shot into the net.

Adam Henrique (Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler) 2-1 Tampa Bay

Adam Henrique (Ryan Getzlaf) 2-2

Troy Terry (Andrej Sustr, Ryan Getzlaf) 3-2 Anaheim

Exit Vasy, enter Brian Elliott. It wasn’t so much any fault on the part of the goaltender, but more of a wake-up call to the team about their poor play in front of him.

It looked like the Lightning had recovered from the flurry of goals and were getting the puck back into the Anaheim zone. In fact, it looked like they had even tied it when Killorn wristed one into the back of the net, but after a quick review, Brandon Hagel was ruled offside prior to the shot. No goal, no tie.

There were some shadows of the Lightning from the first period that flickered throughout the third period. Moments where they moved the puck around with speed and threatened the Anaheim net. A power play provided some close moments like a Brayden Point shot from the slot, but nothing resulted from these attempts.

Anaheim seemed content to absorb these rushes and counter when they had an opportunity. Jamie Drysdale rang one off the post on a shot that beat Elliott cleanly. Terry saw his gilt-edged chance at a second goal denied when Elliott disrupted his breakaway.

With a minute left and the Lightning in full desperation mode it appeared that a denied power play (the refs missed a delay of game penalty as Anaheim sailed a puck into the crowd) would lead to another dispiriting loss. However, the Lightning returned to their Find-a-Way identity as Nikita Kucherov scored from distance with just 12.3 seconds left. Stolarz never saw it as Corey Perry screened him.

Nikita Kucherov (Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry) 3-3

To overtime for the extra point (rendered unnecessarily for playoff purposes due to the Penguins 6-3 win over the Islanders) and pride. The bonus session started off with a rush as Trevor Zegras and Kucherov traded chances on the opening shift. Seconds later Alex Killorn had seemingly found glory as he slipped behind the defense and tucked a forehand around Stolarz, but for the second time replay denied him his claim.

The Lightning did not surrender their fate to the video replay gods, instead they went back out and grabbed the victory that had been denied them. Killorn created the play as he circled from behind the net, drawing defenders to him like flies to honey. Seeing an opening, he slid a pass to Anthony Cirelli, who corralled the puck and slipped it behind a drawn out Stolarz. Victory secured, the Lightning celebrated their win for a second time.

Anthony Cirelli (Alex Killorn, Mikhail Sergachev) 4-3 Lightning