Late bounce hurts Wild at Tampa Bay; losing streak reaches three games

The Wild were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tampa Bay continued its recent tear on home ice, picking up a 10th consecutive victory at Amalie Arena on Tuesday after rallying 4-2 to hand the Wild a third loss in a row at the end of their four-game road trip.

This was also the Lightning's first regulation victory against the Wild in nine meetings after the Wild went 7-0-1 over the past five years.

How the Wild lost: A fluky goal decided a competitive battle between the Wild and the Stanley Cup champions from 2020 and 2021.

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos banked the puck into the net off the Wild's Ryan Hartman with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the third period to polish off the Lightning's comeback with their first lead of the night.

"It was a bad break," Wild coach Dean Evason told reporters in Tampa.

Twice the Lightning erased one-goal deficits, setting up a photo finish that saw both goaltenders ready for the end-to-end action. After Marc-Andre Fleury stretched out for a snazzy glove save on Brandon Hagel in the third, Andrei Vasilevskiy denied Sam Steel's backhand during one of the Wild's best looks.

Overall, Fleury posted 35 saves and Vasilevskiy had 33.

Nikita Kucherov scored into an empty net with 17 seconds to go after factoring into Stamkos' game-winner for a two-point effort. Mikhail Sergachev picked up two assists.

Turning point: Tampa Bay veteran Corey Perry had an answer for every Wild goal.

Joel Eriksson Ek capitalized on a breakaway 3:43 into the second period for his 17th goal of the season and the Wild's eighth shorthanded, which rank second in the NHL. The eight shorthanded tallies are also tied for the most through 46 games in franchise history.

"They're doing it by being aggressive and blocking or having good sticks," Evason said. "We're scoring penalty kill goals the right way."

But Perry responded at 9:44 when he deflected in a Ross Colton shot just seconds after the Wild were back to full strength following a penalty kill.

The Wild moved ahead only 1:58 later when Kirill Kaprizov buried the rebound off an Eriksson Ek shot for his team-leading 27th goal.

Kaprizov's 13 tallies on the power play are two away from Brian Rolston's 2005-06 record for most in a Wild season. As for Eriksson Ek, he's up to six points during a four-game point streak.

Cue Perry.

Once again, he tipped in a Colton windup, this time on the power play. The Lightning finished 1-for-5, while the Wild went 1-for-4.

"We gave up too many penalties again, there's no question about that," Evason said about the Wild, whose skid started last Thursday at Carolina with eight penalties in a 5-2 loss.

What it means: This is the Wild's second three-game slide in January, and not since the start of the season have the Wild dropped three consecutive games in regulation.

They have yet to lose four in a row.

Yes, a fortuitous bounce for the Lightning was the deciding goal, but the Wild didn't come up with that play; Tampa Bay did. That's two consecutive games now in which the Wild haven't scored at even strength; they converted twice on the power play and once at 6-on-5 in the 5-3 setback at Florida on Saturday.

The Wild won't have much time to turn the page on this 1-3 road trip; they return home to play only twice before their bye week and the All-Star break.

"We were close [Tuesday] with our game," Evason said. "We need to see our absolute best game in a couple of nights."

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.