TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher expected his road-weary team would come out flat after getting two days off from practice. He figured it would work out anyway.
After the Lightning’s sluggish beginning, Ryan Malone(notes) scored the only goal of a shootout in the fourth round, Steven Stamkos(notes) had two goals during regulation and the Southeast Division leading Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night.
“I think it was the right thing to do,” Boucher said. “Everybody’s timing was off. It’s not our perfect game, but it’s a confidence builder.”
Tampa Bay has played 27 of its 47 games this season on the road.
“Had a little bit of a slow start, but we battled through,” Stamkos said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we’ll take one to snap out of that little funk. We don’t let it go past two games.”
“Rollie made the key saves he had to, and we found a way to win,” Malone said.
R.J. Umberger(notes) and Derick Brassard(notes) scored for the Blue Jackets, who were coming off a win and an overtime loss in consecutive games against Central Division-leading Detroit following a five-game losing skid. Goalie Mathieu Garon(notes) assisted on Umberger’s goal and stopped 20 shots during regulation.
“Yes, I would have loved to have two points, but at the end of the day, we can’t dwell over something that comes down to a one-on-one competition,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said.
Tampa Bay took a 2-1 advantage when Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 35th goal of the season from the high slot during a power play at 14:24 of the second. Brassard’s rebound goal made it 2-2 with 4:44 to go in the period.
Stamkos has at least one goal in three consecutive games after going six in a row without one.
Umberger put the Blue Jackets up 1-0 from the low slot 7:34 into the game. Stamkos tied it at 1 with 2:08 left in the first on a right-circle shot off a pass from defenseman Victor Hedman(notes), who carried the puck from behind his own net to the Columbus blue line.
“I’m still not sure of the rule,” Clark said. “He tried to explain it to me, but it didn’t make much sense. But, Oh well, there was a lot of game to go after that point.”
Notes: Blue Jackets G Steve Mason(notes) has soreness from an undisclosed minor injury and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. … Tampa Bay C Vincent Lecavalier(notes) played in his 900th NHL game. … Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash(notes) had an assist, extending his point streak to five games (five assists, eight points). … Columbus D Rostislav Klesla(notes) (illness) returned after missing one game. … It was just the 11th game—including six in Florida—played between the teams.