Lightning rally for OT win

By John Romano
Tampa Bay Times/TNS

If there was a game you were going to skip, this would have been it. From all appearances, it was a forgone conclusion.

The Lightning, after all, had not lost to the Red Wings in regulation in more than five years. They were 18-0-1 in their past 19 games against Detroit, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was a perfect 10-0 against these guys.

Not to mention, the Lightning are off to their best start in franchise history - and that includes their historic 62-win season from two years ago.

So, naturally, it was a nail-biter.

The Lightning came from behind Tuesday night to beat the Red Wings, 4-3, in overtime in Detroit with Blake Coleman scoring on a perfect pass from Tyler Johnson.

Even the details were out of character in this one. The Lightning were down to the game’s final 10 minutes before defenseman Erik Cernak tied the score. It was Cernak’s first goal in more than 13 months and, if you count the postseason, it ended a streak of 64 games without a score.

Cernak was set up by Pat Maroon, who fought for possession of the puck behind the net and sent a backhand pass to Cernak, who was unguarded near the left faceoff circle.

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Lightning have now gotten points in nine consecutive games with eight victories.

The Lightning have been dominant in the second period this season, outscoring opponents 33-17 coming into the game, but little went right for them in the second period Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay’s 2-1 lead was wiped out about seven minutes into the period when Vasilevskiy got screened by Filip Zadina and Patrik Nemeth scored on a long slap shot from the right side. Barely two minutes later, Dylan Larkin was left all alone on the left side and hit a wrist shot past Vasilevskiy.

Playing to the soundtrack of a malfunctioning arena horn that kept going off at odd moments, Tampa Bay fell behind 1-0 barely three minutes into the game when former Lightning forward Adam Erne scored a power-play goal on a nice spin move in front of the net.

The Red Wings got the man advantage when Steven Stamkos was assessed a double minor for a high stick.

With the penalty killing unit still on the ice, the Lightning began to seize momentum, with Blake Coleman getting off a shot on a breakaway, and Yanni Gourde and Jan Rutta each getting scoring chances.

Tampa Bay finally broke through on its own power play with a textbook-worthy series of passes. Stamkos moved the puck from the right faceoff circle to Victor Hedman at the blue line, who sent it to Ondrej Palat left of the net, who sent it to Brayden Point a few feet in front of the crease. Point blasted it past goaltender Thomas Greiss for his first goal in five games.

The Lightning took the lead 35 seconds later when Coleman launched a shot from near the blue line and Tyler Johnson redirected it past Greiss.

After going nearly two weeks without giving up more than two goals in any game, the Lightning have now given up three or more in three successive games.