Armstrong scored a goal but was thwarted on several chances in overtime as the Los Angeles Kings settled for a 2-2 tie with the Lightning.
After snapping a tie 49 seconds into the third period with his 11th tally of the season, Armstrong had two glorious scoring chances in the extra session but could not penetrate goaltender John Grahame, who turned aside 37 shots in his second consecutive start.
With All-Star Nikolai Khabibulin sidelined by a stomach virus, Grahame made the initial save with 1:40 left in overtime, setting off a mad scramble in front of the net. From the doorstep, Armstrong tried to lift a loose puck into the top portion of the net, but Grahame was able to raise his blocker while sprawled on the ice and direct it over the crossbar.
“I should have put the puck in the net,” Armstrong said. “He made a great save.”
“There was a scrum in front,” Grahame said. “The puck popped up and he took the shot and I got my arm on it and hit it over the net.”
In the waning seconds, Armstrong came in on a breakaway but was denied by Grahame, who moved to 1-0-2 in his last three decisions.
“I just tried to be patient and let him make the first move,” Grahame said. “I was able to get my pad on it. I was just trying to come up with a save any way I could.”
“There’s not excuses, I just missed,” Armstrong said. “I probably should have taken more of a look, but I just shot it. I just tried to go low to the stick (side). I’m out there for a reason, I’ve got to bear down and put the puck in the net.”
Martin St. Louis salvaged a point for Tampa Bay, scoring his 32nd goal 4:16 into the third to keep the Lightning one point ahead of second-place Washington in the Southeast Division.
“This is going great,” St. Louis said. “We didn’t necessarily expect to win the division, but we’ve got to go for that now.”
Vaclav Prospal netted a power-play tally and St. Louis added an assist for the Lightning, who are unbeaten in their last seven games (4-0-3).
Ziggy Palffy scored the other goal for Los Angeles, which has just one win in the last six games (1-3-2).
Just 1-8-2 in 11 all-time home meetings with Tampa Bay, the Kings grabbed the lead on Palffy’s 32nd of the season.
After rookie defenseman Tomas Zizka’s shot from the left point went wide, Palffy gathered the puck behind the net and banked it off Grahame at 5:43.
Palffy, who also picked up an assist, has five goals and five assists in his last four games.
“Derek, Ziggy Palffy and Alexander Frolov had played together for probably 15 games in a row here and obviously, Frolov is playing the best hockey he has played all year,” Kings coach Andy Murray said. “That combination has certainly been leading us offensively.”
The Lightning took advantage of a power-play chance midway through the second to tie it.
Tampa Bay captain Dave Andreychuk corraled a bouncing puck in the slot and drove to the net before feeding Prospal. At the right side of the net, Prospal slipped it in at 10:09 for his 21st of the season, one shy of a career high.
“Hopefully, we can keep doing what we’re doing,” Andreychuk said. “We got off to a really good start (this season) and we played really well over the last month. For myself, it feels good going back to the playoffs. It’s exciting.”
Less than a minute into the third period, Frolov fired a shot from the slot that hit defenseman Pavel Kubina and headed toward the right side. Coming from behind the net, Armstrong banged the puck into a vacant net to put the Kings ahead, 2-1.
“It was basically an empty-net tap-in, although even on those, goaltenders at this level are so good you can never take it for granted,” Armstrong said. “You still have to shoot them in. I gave it to Ziggy and went back around the net. You hope you get the bounce, and I did on that one. I just snuck in the back door.”
“It was just a lucky bounce, what can you do?” Grahame said. “I think we just forgot about him and he snuck in behind the net. It was pretty much an empty-net goal.”
“That was a great play by (Brad) Lukowich to keep the puck in the zone and then hold on,” St. Louis said. “And that was a great pass by Richards. He bought me some time and then he put the puck right on my stick. All I had to do was make sure I got enough wood on it.”
“He’s been our most consistent player all year long,” Andreychuk said. “He came into this year with the attitude that he had something to prove. He got off to a really good start last year, but he ended up breaking his leg. He’s come up with goals when we’ve really needed them, and that’s what we want from him.”
Starting for the first time in four games, Storr made his best save with just over three minutes remaining in overtime when he stopped Fredrik Modin’s point-blank shot from the doorstep.
“I just tried to get in front of the puck,” Storr said. “I’ll take any save I can get in that situation. I got sort of turned around and I was fortunate to make the save.”