Hedman’s overtime goal lifts Bolts in victory

by Gary Shelton on April 16, 2021

in general

Hedman had his sixth overtime goal./CHUCK MULLER

Friday, 3 a.m.

What's more impressive than a player calling himself out?

Well, how about a player answering?

Victor Hedman, hours after saying that the Bolts' performance down on the stretch rested on the shoulders of, well, him, made his biggest play of the season Thursday night, scoring a goal 54 seconds into overtime to lead the Lightning to a 3-2 overtime win over Florida at Amalie Arena.

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 “It’s was nice to get that one," Hedman said. "The first 60 minutes we gave up too much. We have to be better, but it feels good to come through. I think our compete level was better. You pay attention to the shots, but I think we still competed. Sometimes it feels like we’re waiting for the perfect shot instead of creating havoc.’’

The teams were tied (along with Carolina) atop the NHL's Central Division coming into the game.

Hedman streamed up the ice and took a perfect pass from Alex Killorn for a breakaway to lead to his winning goal. He outraced the field, then deked to his left and tucked the puck behind goalie Chris Driedger for the victory. It was the sixth overtime goal of Hedman's career.

“Clearly, a big play for us at a big moment," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "That’s how you work your way out of stuff. Victor’s an elite world-class player in this league, but they’re human as well. If he doesn’t think he’s playing as we'll as he can, he's probably right. "

The Bolts trailed 1-0 and 2-1 during the game, but got goals from Alex Killorn (off a defender's stick) and Ross Colton (off a skate) to force overtime.

"We did well at times and struggled at times," Cooper said. "You're down 2-1 in a big-time game and you find a way to tie it and then find a way to win overtime. That’s why I really liked our attitude on the bench. It wasn’t a feel-sorry-for-us situation. The boys dug their heels in and pulled one out. It should be something we can build on for Saturday."

Killorn had a point-blank shot just before Hedman's goal but didn't score. That led to a 2-on-1 breakaway by the Panthers that was saved by Andrei Vasilevskiy, which the Bolts turned into their own 2-on-1.

 "There is a reason, in my mind, he’s the best defenseman in the NHL," Killorn said of Hedman. "Not only does he make a great play, he forces the shot on the defensive side. He’s the last guy back, but he finds a way to get all the way up the ice. He’s such leader on this team.”

The Bolts play against the Panthers again Saturday night at Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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