Conacher’s highlight-reel goal lifts Lightning in OT

by Gary Shelton on March 2, 2018 · 4 comments

in general

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

Conacher (center)  scored the game-winner in overtime./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 4 a.m.

This is why they brought him back. This is why they handed him a familiar jersey once again.

Conacher scored his eighth goal of the year./JEFFREY S. KING

Conacher scored his eighth goal of the year./JEFFREY S. KING

Cory Conacher, the retread, scored a slipping, sliding, acrobatic goal with 41 seconds to play in overtime Thursday night, leading the Bolts to a 5-4 overtime victory over the Dallas Stars.

If you'll remember, Conacher started his career with the Bolts, scoring 20 goals in two seasons (82 games) before being traded to Ottawa for goalie Ben Bishop. And if you thought that deal worked out, well, how about the deal to bring him back?

This time around, Conacher has eight goals in 40 games, but none like his overtime winner against the Stars. Bearing in -- against

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Stamkos scored his 25th goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Stamkos scored his 25th goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Bishop of all goalies -- Conacher slid as he shot. Bishop blocked the shot, but Conacher -- as he skidded across the ice -- reached up and tapped the puck again, knocking it in for the winner. It was the second overtime goal of Conacher's career.

It ended a back-and-forth game that featured a 4-2 Lightning lead, the debut of Bolts' rookie Anthony Cirelli, a controversial goal given up with four seconds to play and an injury that goalie Louis Domingue played through.

Killorn scored his 12th goal of the year./CARMEN MANDATO

Killorn scored his 12th goal of the year./CARMEN MANDATO

“The guys have found a way all year," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "As a staff, we’re unbelievably proud of the way we’ve rebounded, especially that’s a tough back-to-back. You’ve got to change time zones and fly a couple hours. We had pretty good energy early. The power plays hurt us a little bit in the first. Really liked our second period. We came out determined. We deserved to get those goals and then we kind of had to hold on in the end there. A little unfortunate how the game went to overtime, but the boys found a way.”

Miller had his first assist for Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Miller had his first assist for Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

The game was the second in two nights and two time zones for Tampa Bay, and the fourth straight overtime game.

In the second period, the Bolts scored three goals in 6:48. But Dallas came back with two goals in the third to force overtime. On the tying goal, Cooper was irate that goalie interference was called.

“I just look at that and what’s a better call?" Cooper said. "I thought a better call was our goalie had no chance to make a save. I guess I was in the minority on that one, but the result I guess turned out the way we felt it should. You don’t want to have to gut through an overtime, but we did and we pulled it out and all’s well.”

For the Bolts, Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, Cirelli and Steven Stamkos scored goals. Leading scorer Nikita Kucherov missed his second straight game.

Cooper was pleased by the effort of Cirelli.

“How excited can you be for him?" Cooper said. "These players, they work their whole life to get this opportunity. Whether you play one game or you play 1,000, they’re all special. The one thing I know, you probably remember game one and you remember game 1,000. I don’t know how many of the ones you remember in between, but you’re always going to remember this one.

"For him to come out and have an impact on the game in such a positive way, it was fun. Guys on the bench were joking after he got that assist whether he was going to get in a fight tonight to really top it off. I got to know this kid over development camps and training camps and he’s a phenomenal kid. Couldn’t be happier for him.”

Tampa Bay returns hone for a Saturday afternoon game against Philadelphia. The puck drops at 1 p.m.


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