It was one game. That’s all. No reason to throw confetti.
It was half of one period. Just that. No reason to believe they are cured.
It was one victory. Big deal. No reason to think the Lightning of last season has returned.
And yet, the Lightning played well enough for the last 10-12 minutes that you thought their 3-1 victory over Calgary could the start of a this team rediscovering itself. Maybe. Just maybe.
Certainly, the Lightning looked like it used to like, with Steven Stamkos ramming home the go-ahead goal with 7:09 to play and Tyler Johnson adding an insurance goal with 1:33 to play after a nifty back-and-forth passing clinich with Nikita Kucherov. Throw in Ben Bishop saving 30 of 31 shots, and you had a game that would have fit well into last season.
“The engine is good,” Lightning coach John Cooper said. “We just have to find a way to stretch out the milage a little bit.”
The Lightning has been in a lull scoring, and they have wasted Ben Bishop’s play in goal. In his last six games, he has allowed only nine goals. But Thursday was the first time he had won.
Cooper said that the team’s goal-scoring has been such a problem lately that no one has considered the goaltender.
“His statistics have been sparkling the last 6-7 games and he doesn’t have a win,” Cooper said. “He probably deserved six wins, five wins out of that. In the end, let’s give credit to a guy who has tiven us a chance to win every night and we haven’t given him a win.”
This time, Bishop took it. That was the part that Cooper liked best about the Lightning win. That it was a 1-1 hockey game in the third. “We have to win those,” he said.
The Lightning plays Florida Saturday night.
“Hopefully, it’s a confidence builder,” Stamkos said. “We’re not there yet. But when we have desperation and desire, that’s when we’re at a best. Hopefully, it’s a wakeup call. We have some work to do.”