Callahan reminds Lightning he’s still around

by Gary Shelton on March 22, 2019 · 1 comment

in general

Callahan scored the game-winner for Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 4 a.m.

If you were picking a hero, perhaps you would look first to Brayden Point, the player with 39 goals. After all, he's fifth in the NHL in goal-scoring.

Or maybe you would pick Steven Stamkos, who has 38 goals. After all, he's sixth in the NHL in goal-scoring.

Or could it be Nikita Kucherov, the points machine?  He's now up to 37 goals, which puts him ninth in the league.

Odds are, you probably wouldn't have picked Ryan Callahan, the forgotten Bolt.

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Domingue has won 21 games this season./JEFFREY S. KING

Callahan, playing in his first game since March 9, knocked in the winning goal Thursday night lead the Lightning to a 6-3 win. Callahan took a pass from Victor Hedman to score as the Bolts won yet another comeback.

The Bolts have to win four of their final seven games to set a new scoring record with 132 points. Their current level of 120 makes them one of 10 teams to score 120 or more. Only three other President's Trophy winners (and a tie with Washington) have scored more points.

“It felt really good," Callahan said. "Anytime you get in the lineup, you want to contribute the best way you can. It was a pretty big goal at that point in the game. I was really excited when it went in.”

Said teammate Anthony Cirelli: “He works so hard on and off the ice. He’s just a great leader to have in the dressing room and a great guy. For him to get that one on his birthday was pretty special. “He’s a great leader. He’s fun to be around. He’s always making jokes. He’s always making the guys laugh. Just to have him around the room, he’s an unbelievable person.”

The Bolts are now 8-10 on the season when trailing after two periods.

“I think it’s just our composure, our demeanor," Callahan said. "Everybody talks about it in the media the type of season we’re having, but very rarely do you hear us mention it in here. We’re always trying to build our game. We know the real season starts in two weeks here, and that’s what we’re focused on, trying to get better, trying to keep getting wins and make sure we’re playing our best hockey in two weeks.”

Besides Callahan, the Bolts got goals from Stamkos, Point, Cirelli, Tyler Johnson and Ryan McDonagh. They now have a franchise record of 292 goals on the season.

The Bolts swept their back-to-back effort against Washington and Carolina, scoring 11 goals.

"Against two unreal opponents…" Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You look at the standings, and Carolina’s been the hottest team in the calendar 2019 aside from maybe us and Boston. To play a back-to-back on the road, especially what I’m most proud of is how we played in the third down a goal.

"We played a really good third period, pretty gritty effort especially playing against an extremely desperate team that’s trying to fight for the playoffs. So really happy with how we finished.”

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had the night off, but continues to lead the NHL with 36 wins. Backup Louis Domingue, however, won his 21st game and is now 20th in the league in victories.

Cerilli's goal tied the game at 3-3.

“His impact on our team is growing with every game," Cooper said. "He’s only been in the League a little over a year. Just watching the improvement from last year at this time to now, it’s remarkable. He’s such a big part of our team. He plays in almost every situation. We’re down 3-2 on the road, and he gets a big goal for us to tie the game. He’s been a huge factor in our success this year.”

The Lightning conclude their road trip Saturday when they take on the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. The puck is scheduled to drop at  8 p.m. Eastern.




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