TAMPA, Fla. - Despite being held in check for much of the evening Steven Stamkos just needed one opportunity and defenseman Matthew Carle made sure he got it.
The Lighting center scored the go-ahead goal with 5:04 remaining the third period to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Stamkos' fifth goal of the season came off of a beautiful cross-ice pass from Carle. Stamkos took the pass off the boards and caught the Minnesota defense out of position as he skated behind them for the breakaway opportunity. His wrist shot went above the glove of Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding.
"I was winding down my shift and I just wanted to get a pass up the ice to Stammer," Carle said. "He took it off the boards and did what he can do when you give him opportunities like that."
Minnesota (3-3-2) had tied the score a few minutes earlier when Mikko Koivu went top shelf over Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on a feed from Nino Niederreiter.
"We had a bit of a breakdown [on Stamkos' goal]," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo. "We made a mistake and obviously we can't give a player like that those kind of opportunities."
Tampa Bay (5-2-0) won its fifth game in six tries and needed a strong 25-save effort from Bishop to get it done.
"It's good to see him going like that," Carle added. "He's been playing well; he's been helping us out a lot by playing the puck as a defenseman.
The Wild began to turn up the offensive pressure in the second period, but Bishop turned away point-blank efforts from Koivu, Marco Scandella and Zach Parise among his big saves.
"The whole team deserves credit," Bishop added. "The guys in front of me are doing a good job making plays and blocking shots. I'm just trying to stop the pucks that come my direction."
Later in the second period, Bishop denied Jason Pominville on an uncontested shot in front of the net.
"We worked hard. We battled hard, but I think we've got to find a way to generate a little more energy," Pominville said. "You can't win a lot of games when you score one goal."
"It's just finding a way to generate a little more five-on-five. We're getting shots. We're getting puck control, but at the same time, teams are collapsing. They're doing a good job at taking those second opportunities away from us, so we've got to find a way to put some of those away."
The Lightning scored the game's first goal behind its strong power play as Tyler Johnson took a pass in the slot from Valterri Filppula and blasted a one-timer past Harding.
"The momentum they were generating off their power play put us on our heels all night," Yeo added. "That's the story of the game. We've got to play smarter on the road."
Outside of the clinching goal, it was a fairly quiet game for Stamkos, although he and Alex Killorn were turned away by Harding on a two-on-zero breakaway late in the second period.
Filppula thought he had a goal in the first period when he sent a rebound under Harding's pad but the referee had stopped the action before the puck crossed the line. Harding finished with 27 saves.
Sami Salo was credited with an empty-net goal in the final seconds of the third period.
NOTES: Lightning RW Martin St. Louis was questionable going into the game but suited up and played his full allotment of shifts. Earlier reports had the team captain as a likely scratch because of a lower body injury. ... Minnesota G Niklas Backstrom was dressed but sat out his fifth consecutive game after suffering a knee strain against Nashville on Oct. 8. ... Going into the game, the Wild was 5-1-1 in its last seven meetings with the Lightning. ... The Lightning recalled RW Brett Connolly from AHL Syracuse on Wednesday. Connolly, the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, was penalized for high sticking in the first period.
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- Ice Hockey
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Steven Stamkos
- Josh Harding
- Ben Bishop