Saturday, December 27, 2008

Break Up the Bolts - Lightning win 2nd Straight

By JC De La Torre

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their 2nd straight game - Lightning fans, that's called a winning streak - for the first time since October and did it in shocking fashion - a shoot out victory over the Florida Panthers 4-3. Its only the second victory for the Lighting in a shoot out this season (Tampa Bay is now 2-6 in shoot outs, snapping a 5 game losing streak in games decided by shootout) and the Lightning will go for their first 3 game win streak of the season tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum on the second half of the home-and-home with the Panthers.

The teams exchanged goals in the first period with Tampa Bay's Steve Eminger opening the scoring at 11:24 mark, then Florida's Keith Ballard tied it with only 1:32 left in the period. Tampa Bay took control of the game late in the second, getting goals from Mark Recchi and Evgeny Artyukhin with two minutes of each other, the last coming with only 1:23 left in the period to make it 3-1 after two.

The Lightning held that advantage until the 13:37 mark of the third, when former Bolt Corey Stillman converted on the power play to shave the Tampa Bay lead to one. It would hold up until the final minute of the game, when the Panthers pulled their goalie for the extra attacker and it paid off with 0:14 seconds left when Bryan McCabe tied it at 3, a devastating blow to a Tampa Bay hockey team struggling for victories.

Still, the Lightning proved some resiliency, fighting through the overtime and getting it to the shoot out, where Ryan Malone won it with a wrister past goaltender Craig Anderson and sent the Bolts into celebration.

"We talk about building on things," Steve Eminger told the St. Pete Times, "We played a pretty good game, and we ran into some trouble in the end, had some penalty trouble, and that will happen. To build on it, you have to find some way to win, and if it's a shootout, then it's a shootout. We just have to keep on."

Tampa Bay goes for double digit victories tonight as they remain the only team in the NHL not to reach 10 victories on the season. Goalie Mike Smith was solid again, making 25 saves on 28 shots.

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