TAMPA — Wild, wacky, crazy and zany.
The Tampa Bay Lightning found a way to overcome all of it Thursday night when Marty St. Louis scored 1:16 into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 6-5 victory against defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago in front of an announced crowd of 18,820 at The Forum.
“It was like little, mini games,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It was just mountains of setbacks in the game where they could have folded but they didn’t, and that says a lot about the guys in the room.”
Steven Stamkos scored twice, giving him nine goals in seven career games against Chicago, and ending with four points. Nate Thompson added a short-handed goal, Victor Hedman and Matt Carle also scored, and Ben Bishop made 38 saves as the Lightning improved to 6-3.
Tampa Bay knocked off Chicago for the second time in three weeks despite the Blackhawks again controlling much of the game, finishing with a 43-25 shot advantage. In the two meetings, both won by Tampa Bay past regulation, the Lightning were outshot 82-41.
Tampa Bay overcame losing a two-goal lead in a span of 96 seconds, gave up a late tying goal in the second period, fell behind in the third, rallied to take the lead and then were victimized by a fluky goal with less than two minutes remaining to pull Chicago even again.Stamkos had scored on a power play at 17:31 for a 5-4 lead. But on a harmless back pass from Matt Carle to Radko Gudas, the puck took a bounce off the ice, struck the shaft of Gudas’ stick and caromed off his leg past Bishop with 1:49 left.
“I’ve never seen that before, so it was a first for me,” Bishop said. “But the whole game was like that. They were tipping everything. Every goal kind of had something happen.”
In that moment, the game slowed for many on the Lightning bench.
“I’m not so sure I’ve seen something like that happen. It almost happens in slow motion when I see that tying goal go in the net,” Cooper said. “We’d rather be looked at than looked over, and I think in the last minute and a half we would have definitely been looked at tonight.”
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, that goal only tied the game and didn’t give Chicago the lead, and the Lightning collected themselves and found a way to win it in overtime.
Gudas put a shot on net and Stamkos fished out the rebound from goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to keep the puck alive. St. Louis grabbed the puck just before Khabibulin covered it with his glove, and the Lightning captain put it in the net for his fifth goal of the season.
“It got pretty crazy toward the end, but I think we just stuck with it,” St. Louis said. “This is four points that I don’t think many teams in the East are going to get from the Blackhawks, so we are very happy with the results.”
Tampa Bay grabbed a 2-0 lead on Carle’s power-play goal 6:28 into the game and Thompson’s third career short-handed goal 1:24 into the second — the Lightning’s second short-handed goal this season after they produced one in the previous two seasons combined. The Blackhawks then scored twice in 96 seconds, on a rebound goal from Bryan Bickell and a deflection by Marian Hossa.
Stamkos regained the lead at 17:21 with a wrist shot from the right circle, but Patrick Kane pulled Chicago even on a breakaway goal with 1:07 left in the second.
Andrew Shaw scored another deflected goal, getting a piece of Kane’s shot on a power play 1:33 into the third period, the Blackhawks’ first third-period goal since their season opener Oct. 1.
Bishop came up with a big save on an in-close tap-in by Jonathan Toews at 8:07 to keep it a one-goal game, and Hedman scored his first of the season to tie it at 11:03. Toews was credited with the Chicago goal that went in off Gudas.
“We battled tonight,” Stamkos said. “We are finding ways to win, and tonight wasn’t the nicest win by any means, but we played the game like we had to play with the scenarios that we were in, and we showed a lot of character coming back after that lucky goal, so we will take the two points.”.