Once again, Lightning survive an in-game collapse

by Gary Shelton on February 28, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Hedman scored the game-winner in overtime./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Are the Tampa Bay Lightning getting bored by their own success?

The Lightning, the runaway leader in the NHL standings, blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game before finding a way to win in a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers.

The bottom line remains consistent for the Bolts, who won for a franchise-record 10th straight time when defenseman Victor Hedman scored with 1:35 to play in overtime.

But along the way, the Bolts have become subject to the ups and downs as one might expect at this point of the season. The Bolts

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Kucherov has the second-most points in franchise history./JEFFREY S. KING

have 102 points on the season, which can make it hard for a team to maintain its focus. It has blown 2-0 leads against pedestrian teams like the L.A. Kings and the New York Rangers.

“We took a lot of penalties," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.
It kind of sucked the momentum out of us. I’m sure the Rangers went in their room and said they weren’t playing their best, and we thought it was probably going to be an easier night. The Rangers thought differently. That’s what you get.”

Hedman's goal was his eighth of the season. It came after assists from Steven Stamkos (his second of the night) and Nikita Kucherov (his fourth).

“It means it’s hard for teams to catch us if you’re winning games like that," Cooper said. "More importantly, it’s how you win the games. For most of the year, you leave games and you’re like, ‘We deserved that game.’ I’m not saying we don’t deserve tonight, but we made it a lot harder on ourselves. I give Quinn credit. He’s got those guys playing hard. They didn’t stop. They could have easily rolled over, but they didn’t and made us work for it in the end. The swing in our game tonight hasn’t happened that often. But got to give them credit, they found a way again, and it’s kind of what they’ve been doing all year.”

The Bolts took a 2-0 lead on goals by Tyler Johnson and J.T. Miller. Dan Girardi scored to make it 3-1 before the Rangers came back.

"It’s no secret our second and third weren’t as good as our first, and we have 18 more games to figure that out," Girardi said. "If we played like we did in the first for 60 we would have been fine. Let a real hungry, young team in a game like that, get some momentum, they’re going to end up making you pay, grinding a point out of us. But we made a good play in that overtime to get the win.

"It’s been kind of a crazy year like that because no matter how we played during the game, we always find a way to get the win, either pull out a shootout or overtime. We have a good group in here that can give ourselves a chance to win every night, especially Vasy back there the way he’s playing, making big saves when he has to, that’s keeping us in every game and giving us a chance to win. It’s been kind of a crazy year to have so many wins together at a time, but we’re trying to find a way to get our game feeling the best we can to start the playoffs.”

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 33 of 36 shots. He is 29-7-5 on the season, and his eight straight wins are the second longest win streak in the NHL behind teammate Louis Domingue.

Kucherov now has 104 points, the second-highest point total in Lightning history. He is four points behind Vinny Lecavalier's total in 2006-07.

Miller didn't make excuses for the Bolts' losing the lead.

“I scored a goal today," Miller said. "It doesn’t mean I played good, that’s for sure. Good first period, and after that, just kind of disappeared. I’m excited we got two points today. Goaltender played great, PK was awesome. Good news is we don’t have much time to think about some plays and we can move on and play a good hockey team in a fun place to play tomorrow.”

The Bolts play against Boston tonight. Tampa Bay is 6-2 in the second game of back-to-backs. The puck is schedued to drop at 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden.

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