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Lightning wins after frantic 3-on-3 overtime period against Flyers

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Ah, yes. This is what hockey is, all right.

The home team raising a banner to rekindle the memory of last season’s runner-up finish. The Lightning coming from behind. The Lightning winning in overtime. The crowd dancing and posing. The head coach finding a way.

All of that returned to play Thursday night as the Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, at Amalie Arena. Throw in a fascinating new rule, the three-on-three overtime period, and it made for a nice return to the ice for the Bolts.

Tampa Bay won a manic overtime period that featured several breakaways on a more open sheet of ice, one that was won by defenseman Jason Garrison on his second goal of the night. Ryan Callahan also scored for Tampa Bay.

After years of playing an overtime period followed by a shutout, this is certain to be a grand addition to the game. In a 2:17 span of play, the Lightning got off five shots and had another chance fumbled away. Goaltender Ben Bishop stopped his second penalty shot of the night in overtime.

“I’m a fan of the shootout,” Cooper said. “I think there is a place for the shootout. But the three-on-three is a little more team-oriented. If it decides more games, that’s good for the game. How long did the three-on-three last? 2:17? It was lunacy for 2:17. A shootout doesn’t give you that same rush.”

It finally ended when Garrison got loose on a breakaway and jammed his second goal of the game in, and it felt like one of those old E-ticket rides.

“Personally, I don’t like to ride a roller coaster too much with my emotions,” Garrison said. “The three-on-three is a little like that. It’s a high, a low, a high. It’s exciting for the fans. There is a lot of open ice out there. I think our guys like that. It should be fun if we ever get in that situation.”

Forward Ryan Callahan, who also scored, prefers the three-on-three to a shootout. Provided he can survive it.

“It was crazy,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see too many games going to a shootout if it’s like that. I think once teams get some video on it, it’ll slow down some. Or I’m going to have a heart attack. It’s fun to watch. I like it better than a shootout. It can happen in a game. It’s a good way to end it.”

Well, maybe not so much from a goalie’s viewpoint. Bishop grinned at the three-on-three and acknowledged that fans will like it. But he said “I think it’s a little goofy, playing a three-on-three for five minutes.”

Tampa Bay visits Buffalo on Saturday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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