Monday, 3 a.m.
Have you heard this one before?
The Tampa Bay Lightning, desperately clinging to a shot at the NHL playoffs, fall behind early. The Lightning instead turn to the no-names on the bottom of its roster. The Lightning come from behind to win. There is Joy in Mudville.
This time, it was Adam Erne who led the way for the Bolts, as he scored twice to lead Tampa Bay past the Dallas Stars, 6-3. But Braydon Coburn, Brayden Point, Anton Stralman and Ondrej Palat also scored for the Bolts. Still, the Bolts trail Ottawa by three points for the last wild-card spot. They also trail Toronto by three for third place in the Atlantic Division.
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The game followed a familiar script for the Lightning. It was the seventh time in their last eight wins the team has come from behind.
This time, the Stars led 2-1, but Tampa Bay scored four times in the third period to put the game away. Goaltender Peter Budaj won his first home game for the Lightning, stopping 23 shots.
Dallas had three goals waved off.
“It just comes down to our season and that was it,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “That was the discussion in the room was, ‘Do you want to give yourself a chance to play past next Sunday?’ So, if you don’t, then play the way we did in the second. If you do, play the way we did in the third. Get a couple good breaks.
“We really pushed. I think the end of our second period, that last five minutes, we really pushed. Obviously caught a big break on the offside call. If we go down two, it’s a little higher climb back. I thought we really carried some momentum there. We scored and it kind of pushed us into the third period. I thought we had a really good first 13 or 14 minutes in the third. Then we took the penalty and they scored and then we were a little bit on our heels after that. But that response in the third, the guys showed their will and it paid off.”
Cooper was pleased with his team's secondary scoring.
“We’ve needed them, in just different ways,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to be really happy for Adam Erne who’s been
chipping away, chipping away, chipping away and doesn’t really have any points to show for it. He makes a really strong move to the net for the first goal and just threw a puck at the net for the second and it went in for him. He deserved his breaks tonight.
“The Yanni Gourde’s, you go down the list of the guys that have really helped us out, but you look at that secondary scoring that you need. We needed that. Then in the end when we needed that third period, the big line was huge, especially led by Palat. I thought he was a man child out there in the third.”
This week should be a telling week for the Lightning, which travels to Boston, Toronto and Montreal before returning home to face Buffalo on Sunday.
“These last couple games have kind of been like a playoff games for us so that’s not going to change these next couple of games,” Point said. “Obviously Boston is a big one for us and that’s just what we’re looking at right now."
Said Erne: “We have got to step up when guys are out of the lineup and that's what we are doing. Obviously, we have to do everything we can to stay here so that's what we're trying to do."