Lightning surge from behind to beat Maple Leafs

by Gary Shelton on March 21, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Killorn scored the winning goal in the Lighting's comeback./CARMEN MANDATO

Killorn scored the winning goal in the Lighting's comeback./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Too many slow starts. Too many wobbly endings.

Too many nights when the power is off. Too many games when the defense plays chase. Too many games forced into overtime. Too many mediocre efforts against mediocre teams.

Yeah, there is something about the season of the Tampa Bay Lightning that has left you wanting more. As good as the team has been, as many games as it has won, the Bolts' second half simply hasn't measured up to the excellence of the first half. Perhaps it's greedy, but fans would love to see the team's early season success return.

Ah, but Tuesday night? Tuesday night was a game worth keeping.

Vasilevskiy won his team-record 41st win of the season./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevskiy won his team-record 41st win of the season./CARMEN MANDATO

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Nikita Kucherov scored his 37th goal of the season./STEVEN MUNCIE

Nikita Kucherov scored his 37th goal of the season./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Bolts came back from three goals down to win a 4-3 thriller over the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was Tampa Bay's 50th win of the season, and the 41st win by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Yeah, yeah. If you're looking for perfection, you can quibble about falling behind 3-0. But a comeback from a three-score deficit is good in any sport. It was the Lighting's most memorable victory in a while.

“What I do know is that this group has found a way, and the one thing they didn’t do is we haven’t gone on prolonged losing streaks and we haven’t gone on massive winning streaks but you know we’ve won more than we’ve lost," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "I think that’s the sign of a group that, when it’s time to dig in, they dig in, and for the most part this year they’ve really done that.

McDonagh scored his second goal for the Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

McDonagh scored his second goal for the Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

“Sometimes you have to take a step back and think, ‘Okay, its 82 games and it’s a tough league to win in.’ It’s a grind and you just got to stay at it. And as I’ve said before, this group’s found a way and sometimes it hasn’t always been pretty but in the end, like I said, you walked into that room during the third and you might have thought we were up instead of down and that’s what I liked about the group.”

The Bolts fell behind 3-0 Tuesday night, but came back on goals by Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn.

Hedman got the Bolts' first goal of the night./CARMEN MANDATO

Hedman got the Bolts' first goal of the night./CARMEN MANDATO

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 of 30 shots for his 41st win of the season, breaking former goaltender Ben Bishop's record of 40.

"He’s one of the best goalies in the NHL," Vasilevskiy said. "It’s pretty nice to break his record, but it’s not my goal.”

Vasilevskiy said the key to the turnaround was keeping it simple.

"Just less turnovers," Vasilevskiy said. "Toronto did a good job in the first two periods. In the third, we played very simple. They made five or six shots in the third period, so that was a perfect period.”

Killorn's game-winning goal was his 14th of the season.

“They were playing really well in the first two periods, a lot of structure, but we didn’t have our best in those first two periods," Killorn said. "In between intermission, we just thought, ‘Let’s stick to our game and how good it would feel if we come back and win this game.’ We played one of our better third periods in a long time

“Once we get a goal quick there, it’s just about keeping the game simple. We weren’t trying to force anything. We didn’t try to make too many plays. A lot of our plays came off of simple plays and pucks to the net. You saw on Kuch’s goal, it’s simple hockey. Sometimes that’s going to win those games.”

Kucherov's goal was his 37th of the season.

The Lightning next play Thursday in a matchup against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

The Bolts have nine games left in the regular season. During that time, the team has to attempt to reclaim the momentum that seems to have slipped away recently.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS March 21, 2018 at 9:30 am

I like this team! I don’t feel bad when they lose because I know they are better than that loss. But it feels so great to watch them surge back like last night and win a tough one! They are still in the lead and only 9 games to go before the play offs start! Yes it would be great to be able to win all 9 games to end the regular season !! But just stay healthy guys and have fun! It is still a long battle to win Mr Stanly’s Cup! GO BOLTS!

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Gary Shelton March 21, 2018 at 11:29 am

Well said.

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