Although 2013 ended up being a major disappointment for the Tampa Bay Lightning, there were some bright spots.
One was the Lightning’s resiliency late into games. Even when things looked bleak, almost to the point of no return, they scraped, clawed and just refused to give up. Their 66 to 49 goal differential in third periods serves as proof, along with the fact they were tops among NHL teams in late-game comebacks.
While Tampa Bay still lost many of those games, the ability to get a point is something that deserves recognition.
Would they have liked to earn two points? Sure, but their goaltending and defense were shoddy at best and the offense could only muster so much.
Looking back, this team’s biggest comeback likely came on the road against a scorching hot Washington Capitals team. It was 5-1 after two periods, resulting in many Lightning fans changing the channel or shutting off their TV. What happened next was practically unfathomable, as the team scored four goals in the final 20 minutes to force overtime. After that, no one cared much about the final result, instead labeling this a “character win”. Believe me when I say those are important, if for no other reason than the fact they help build confidence.
Another memorable game happened to be new head coach Jon Cooper‘s first behind the Lightning bench. With a second two-goal deficit heading into the final 15 minutes of a game against future Hall-of-Fame netminder Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, Lightning fans pretty much thought their team had no chance. Even when offensive superstar Steven Stamkos pulled the team within one, almost no one believed coming back was truly possible. But rookie Alex Killorn proved any doubters wrong by scoring in the waning seconds to force extra time. The final result: a six-five-shootout win, beginning Cooper’s tenure in style.
That being said, the Lightning can’t rely solely on their comeback ability. Instead, this team must consistently put together full 60-minute efforts. If they are able to do that, Tampa Bay will be playoff contenders sooner rather than later.