If you were to tell Tampa Bay Lightning fans two nights ago that their team’s first win would come on the road against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, it’s a pretty good bet many would look at you funny. Yet that’s exactly what happened Saturday night, as the Bolts overcame a two goal third period deficit to beat the reigning champs 3-2 in a shootout.
Goaltender Ben Bishop was by far the only reason this game remained within reach after 40 minutes. He faced 25 shots in the first couple of frames, but limited the Hawks to just two goals. That kept the Lightning close despite an offense which really didn’t show up early, posting a franchise record zero (yes, you heard that right!) shots on goal through 20 minutes.
Heading into the third something must have been said, however, as the Bolts killed off defenseman Eric Brewer‘s boneheaded penalty before going on the attack. Newly appointed captain Martin St. Louis cut the deficit in half, finally breaking Corey Crawford‘s shutout bid. He then assisted on Teddy Purcell‘s power play goal (yes, they actually worked on that yesterday after Thursday night’s horrible performance) to give the team a chance at their first victory.
And what a win it was. Practically no one thought this team could beat the defending champions on the road in their house, and those thoughts looked to be spot on after watching the first two periods. But they did, which is more than some teams will be able to say this season.
This win also should cement Bishop as the Lightning’s no. 1 goaltender. I know the coaches have said they’d like to stick with more of a rotation, but look at the numbers. Though each one only has one game under their belt, his .949 save percentage on 39 shots is far and away better than that of Anders Lindback, who came out of his first game action with an .880 save percentage on 25 shots.
Now, the question is can the Lightning keep this momentum going Tuesday night against Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres? If Bishop’s in net there’s certainly a chance, and that’s something Tampa Bay fans have waited forever to hear.