TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning are having some success with late comebacks.
Vincent Lecavalier had a tie-breaking goal midway through the third period, Steven Stamkos got his league-leading 23rd of the season, and the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Thursday night.
Lecavalier gave Tampa Bay, which trailed 3-2 after two periods, the 4-3 advantage on a rebound goal at 8:37. The Lightning have five wins (5-14-1) this season when trailing at the start of the third.
“Right now we’re No. 1 in the league in comebacks after two periods, which is a testament to the players’ character,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. “You’d like to be in position to be in the lead once in a while before the third. But it’s extremely positive.”
Tampa Bay also got goals from J.T. Wyman and Marc-Andre Bergeron. The Lightning have won four of six.
“We’re getting there,” Stamkos said. “We’re finding ways to win games now, whereas before we were finding ways to lose games.”
Michael Cammalleri, David Desharnais and Erik Cole scored for the Canadiens, who have lost six of seven. Rookie defenceman Raphael Diaz had two assists, giving him five in the past two games.
“We had some opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on … It’s a broken record this year that we’ve got a 3-1 lead and we end up losing the hockey game,” Cole said. “It continues to be a problem. We just need to sort it out.”
Bergeron got the Lightning even at three at 2:32 of the third when his shot from the blue-line eluded goalie Carey Price. The defenceman’s first goal in 21 games was upheld after a video review was inconclusive in determining if the shot was deflected into the net by a high stick.
Montreal went up 2-1 on Desharnais’ goal from the right circle at 5:01 of the second.
After Cole’s in-close goal 12:46 into the second against Mathieu Garon, Wyman cut the Lightning deficit to 3-2 with 2:22 remaining on his first NHL goal.
Wyman’s goal, which trickled between Price’s pads and just across the goal-line, also underwent a video review.
“Still waiting to hit the (back of the) net,” a smiling Wyman said.
Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth said he’s seen calls go both ways in situations like Wyman’s goal.
“They explained to me that they viewed the light go on, and in his estimation that’s a hockey goal,” Cunneyworth said. “But my idea about it was it was more of a whistle—play blown dead—and the puck hadn’t crossed the line by that time, and it eventually did ever so slightly and they got credited with it.
Stamkos put the Lightning ahead 1-0 on a nifty re-direction of Pavel Kubina’s long-range shot at 3:43 of the first. The centre had two goals in Tuesday night’s 5-1 win over Philadelphia.
Cammalleri tied it at one during a power play with 11:18 left in the first. Montreal entered the game with the second-worst power play in the NHL.
“A disappointing feeling right now,” Montreal centre Lars Eller said. “It was a close game and for two periods we did a lot of things very well, but in the end Tampa was a little better than us and had a couple of questionable calls going their way. We just didn’t have it today.”
Notes: Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman didn’t play due to an upper-body injury, and will have his status evaluated on Friday. … C Tomas Plekanec played in his 508th game with Montreal, tying him with Bert Olmstead for 56th on the team list. … Lightning D Matt Gilroy returned after missing four games because of a lower-body injury. … Tampa Bay recalled D Evan Oberg for the fifth time this month from Norfolk of the AHL. He has not yet played for the Lightning. … The Lightning signed Pierre-Cedric Labrie to a two-year, two-way contract. The forward is playing for Norfolk.