Once again, Bolts turn a deficit into a victory

by Gary Shelton on January 13, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Stamkos scored his 24th goal of the year./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

If Rocky Balboa was a hockey team, this is the one he would be.

It doesn't matter how you knock him around. You can cut him and beat him and bruise him for most of the fight. You can stagger him and hurt him.

Then comes the final round, and watch out.

The bounce-back boys of hockey did it again Saturday night, on the road, scoring the game's final three goals to get past the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3. A

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slow start didn't matter. A one-goal deficit in the first didn't matter. What mattered was Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and the guys owning the final period of play.

Tampa Bay is now 35-8-2 on the season, and their 72 points are seven ahead of any team in franchise history after 45 games.

Bolts' coach Jon Cooper, however, is getting a tad concerned about his team's lethargic starts.

“We sleep-walked through the first period," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Especially a team that had to travel and come in on a back-to-back, we just didn’t execute. You would have thought it was the first day of training camp. But, to be honest, I left them alone and the leaders took over in the second period. Stammer and the boys did what they had to do and as that game went on, we got stronger and stronger. And those guys led the charge.”

Consider the final 13:43 of the game. Nikita Kucherov scored the tying goal, then fed Steven Stamkos a drop pass to give the team the lead. With 1:19 to play, Ryan Callahan put the finisher on the game.

It has become a routine sight by the Bolts, trailing in the third period but rallying to win.

“We’ve been able to find our way on the win side quite a bit this year in situations maybe in the past we wouldn’t have," Cooper said. "Is there a benefit that this group has been together for a little bit and we know what we’re capable of and what we can do? There’s no question. Do I think players are more comfortable standing up to each other, holding themselves accountable? There’s no question. You need that from your leadership group, the Stamkoses and the Callahans and the McDonaghs and the Girardis, the Stralmans, you go down the list. They hold themselves accountable. It’s been fun to watch and fun to coach them.”

Backup goalie Louis Domingue won his eighth straight game for the Lightning, stopping 30 of 33 shots. Domingue has 16 wins on the season.

The Bolts are in Brooklyn tonight to face the New York Islanders. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

 

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