Special teams allow Lightning to win again

by Gary Shelton on March 1, 2020

in general

Killorn scored to stop a Flames' comeback./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Before a team can re-establish itself as special, it must start with the special teams.

Cue the Tampa Bay Lighting, winners again.

The Bolts took a shaky 4-3 win over Calgary Saturday afternoon to stop a four-game losing streak. Tampa Bay is now 41-19-5 on the season, and once again is headed in the proper direction.

And guess what? Most of its power came from its power play.

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Johnson scored the first power play goal for the Bolts./CHUCK MULLER

The Bolts have been struggling for a while with a man advantage, having scored on just four of its previous 57 chances coming into the game. But Tampa Bay scored twice on the power play (Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat) and once shorthanded (Yanni Gourde) to take a 3-0 lead in the game.

“We liked a lot of things we’ve been doing," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We  needed that bounce. That’s what we’ve been talking about. We have to get that bounce. We got the bounce on the first one and made a good play on the second. It (the power play) is too good to keep it down for long. You can make the argument that special teams cost us the last two games; it won it tonight."

The Flames came back with two goals in 52 seconds to trim the lead to a goal, but Alex Killorn scored his 24th goal 53 seconds after that. Sean Monohan scored with 2:49 left to bring Calgary back to within a goal.

Vasilevskiy won his 33rd game of the season./CHUCK MULLER

For goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, it was the end of a personal three-game losing streak. He won for the 33rd time this season.

“It was a good performance from start to finish," said Blake Coleman, who won for the first time since joining the Lightning. "Since I’ve been here we’e had a little trouble with special teams and that’s one thing that bailed us out tonight. The response when they get those two goals was good."

The Lightning was playing hours after announcing that captain Steven Stamkos will miss the remainder of the regular season. He is scheduled to undergo surgery on a core muscle and will be out 6-8 weeks.

Kucherov fights for open space./CHUCK MULLER

Injuries limited Stamkos to 37 games in 2013-14 and to 17 in 2016-17, He has played in 57 games this season.

"It’s a huge loss when you think about the way he produces for us," said Killorn. "He’s a leader. The only positive is we have done it before. It’s six weeks. Hopefully, we'll have him back for the playoffs.

"His leadership is something you can't talk about enough. He wears the C. He’s been with this franchise for so long. He kind of sets the standard.  I feel horrible for him, the games he's lost."

Palat has quietly been very good./CHUCK MULLER

Cooper put it more simply.

"Stammer’s a weapon," Cooper said. "Everyone will say 'you’re going to miss that goal scorer,' but what happens is teams are on him a lot. They devise schemes to look after him, which means someone else is open. He might not be taking the shots. We have to get a little more creative on the power play, but you can’t replace him. You’re talking about one of the best in the world at what he does."

The Lightning plays against Boston on Tuesday night t 7:30 p,m. at Amalie Arena. The Bruins are the only team in the league to have won more games than the Bolts.

Coburn helped the Bolts survive./CHUCK MULLER

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