Steven Stamkos poured in two third period goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning steamed past the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 Friday evening. Brayden Point and Corey Perry also scored for Tampa (31-11-6). Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist while Alex Galchenyuk and Nick Schmaltz also scored for Arizona (12-32-4). Brian Elliott made 16 saves for the Lightning and Karel Vejmelka stopped 28 for the Coyotes.
Point put a bullet wrister by Vejmelka, stepping into the zone to put Tampa on the board early.
“It was our main goal coming into tonight, to play the first 20 hard, get on them early,” said Taylor Raddysh about their fast start.
The Coyotes were denied a tying goal midway through the period. The goal was waved off furiously by the referee when Keller tried to tuck the puck past Elliott. It slid along the goal line, hit the post and was removed at the last second by Jan Rutta.
Vejmelka lets one slip through on a side of the net rebound by Perry. Patrick Maroon and his linemates drove the net with a shot.
“It’s kinda where I’ve made my living in my 17 year career,” said the veteran Perry about his 399th NHL goal close to the blue paint. “Somebody has to go there, and I don’t mind doing it”.
Closing out the first period, hot-handed Galchenyuk (4 goals in 5 games) backhanded a rebound by the veteran Lightning goaltender to cut the lead in half for Tampa Bay two-one.
In an uneventful middle frame, the Coyotes had some pressure early, but the reigning back to back champions took more control as the period dragged on.
The Bolts were unable to score on a late power play, after old friend Riley Nash was called for tripping Point. The best opportunity was an Ondrej Palat shot which was deflected on net but was stopped by the rookie Yotes netminder.
The Lightning increased the lead early 3-1 in the third period on a wrister off the rush by Stamkos.
“You gotta keep pushing. Doesn’t matter what team you’re playing, you sit back, it’s death.” said Perry on Lightning’s continued pressure though the score being close.
Elliott made a huge save on a one time shot by Keller only minutes later to keep the Lightning lead intact. Perry had a glorious chance for #400 midway through the final period but just got stick checked on an empty side of the net rebound with Vejmelka down after the initial shot on a power-play opportunity.
Speedy Keller put Coyotes within one on an off-speed shot through Elliott’s five-hole flying into the offensive zone 3-2.
Just a few minutes later Stamkos found himself wide open on a breakaway to put Lightning ahead 4-2. He was sprung by a terrific feed by Mathieu Joseph between the defenders to the available captain, who fired it by the Coyotes goaltender.
“We put it in Stammer’s hands. On a breakaway and a 2-on-1, it’s a good chance, the puck’s going to go in,” said Victor Hedman about Lighting’s goals on the rush.
The drama wasn’t over as the Coyotes found some momentum with the goalie pulled. With an extra attacker Schmaltz puts the game within one on the rebound. That would be as close as they got, though. The Coyotes couldn’t muster another solid attempt in the final minute as the Lightning did an excellent job of pinning the play deep in the Arizona zone.
Next up: Tampa have one more rescheduled game to make up Tuesday in New Jersey.
Stars: Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry, Victor Hedman
Rocks: Brian Elliott, Nikita Kucherov
- Perry scored his 399th NHL goal (13th of the season).
- This was the Lightning’s last game in Gila River Arena. Yesterday the Arizona Coyotes announced they had come to an agreement to temporarily share the Arizona State Sun Devils’ new multi-purpose arena being built in Tempe, beginning next season.
- Brian Elliott earned his 5th win of the season.