The game had disappointing loss written all over it at this point as it looked as though Vancouver – who was thoroughly dominating play at this point – would pull it out in the closing minutes.
But the Lightning fought back with some offensive pressure of their own in the last minute, and Ryan Kesler took a high-sticking penalty with just 37 seconds left in regulation.
While Tampa Bay couldn’t take advantage in the final seconds of the third, it didn’t take long for them to strike in the overtime.
With the power play carrying over into the extra session, Martin St. Louis fed a perfect pass from deep in the right wing side to Stamkos at the top of the slot. Stamkos, not stationed at his usual spot at the left faceoff circle with the man advantage, rifled a shot over Schneider’s glove hand and into the net to win the game for the Bolts.
Some Positive Thoughts
It was a much needed victory for Tampa, as they remained a point ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference standings. And with the recent cooling off of the Washington Capitals, who lost again Saturday night, the Lightning find themselves just three points behind the division-leading Caps. And they have a game in hand.
The Bolts finished this three-game West coast swing on a positive note with the win, following a shootout loss Friday in Edmonton and a regulation loss in Calgary on Tuesday.
The club is coming home for a three-game home stand of their own, a rarity so far this season. Out of the first 30 contests played, they have enjoyed the comforts of home just in 11 of those games. The schedule has been stacked for the Lightning to play on the road early, as the incredible 12-game home stand from late-January through late-February will more than even things out.
Continued Goaltending Woes
Once again Ellis looked very good at times, but gave up a soft goal at the most inopportune of times.
There is no faulting Ellis on the first two Vancouver goals.
The first was a Sedin thing of beauty, with a Henrik to Daniel pass across the front of the crease slam dunk in which Ellis had no chance.
The second on scored by Malhotra was a deflection from just outside the blue paint in which Ellis had no time to react.
But the Ballard goal was not only stoppable, it had to be stopped. Ballard did use the Tampa defender somewhat as a screen, but Ellis has to make that save, especially given the situation – with less than six minutes left in a game in which the Bolts were clinging to life with a one-goal lead.
Ellis has now started the last four contests, sporting a 2-1-1 record. He is now 8-5-4 on the year, with a 3.23 goals-against average and a horrible .876 save percentage. His save percentage is only better than one netminder that has gotten into enough games to qualify, that being teammate Mike Smith (.872).
While it is unrealistic to be perfect, if he is to take a stranglehold on the number one goaltending job, he will have to cut down on the amount of soft goals being allowed from his game.
Bolts Bits: The Lightning had a bad night in the faceoff circle, winning just 21-of-58 draws…after outshooting the Canucks 14-7 in the first period, Vancouver dominated the amount of shots in the second and third, outgunning the Bolts by a 20-8 count. Stamkos’ goal was the only shot in overtime…the power play was lethal for both teams, with Tampa going 2-3 and the Canucks 2-4 with the man advantage…Naslund’s number 19 was retired prior to the game, becoming just the third number to be retired by the Canucks. The other two were Trevor Linden’s number 16 and Stan Smyl’s number 12.
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