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Lightning Fought For The Win On Cooper's Debut

Lightning  Fought For The Win On Cooper's Debut

Jon Cooper had to wait four days after being hired to sit behind the bench of his new team, and it just may have been worth it.

The Lightning didn't always look spectacular, but they played with a ton of heart, and their star, Steven Stamkos shined just as bright as ever. 

The opening period came to a low-shooting close, with neither team able to put the puck in the net, but things certainly heated up in the second stanza, with the Devils leading both in goals (3) and shots on the goal (17).  

New Jersey scored two goals within a minute as center Andrei Loktionov's wrister got past Mathieu Garon at 5:50. 51 seconds later, Victor Hedman was called for hooking Tom Kostopolous, who scored on the ensuing penalty shot to put the Devils ahead by two.

It didn't take the Lightning long to tie it up as Stamkos scored his 24th goal of the season at 8:00, followed less than two miniutes later by Nate Thompson's, who out-hustled everybody to sneak one past Martin Brodeur. 

On their third straight power play, New Jersey put themselves back up on a Andy Greene power play goal that bounced off the post and into the net.

After the second intermission, Ryan Carter extended the Devils' lead with a short-handed goal 2:39 in to the final period and with the goal, momentarily sucked the life out of the Forum.

At 7:11, Stamkos set the red lamp off for the second time of the night sending the fans wearing the Bolt's blue into a frenzy as "Hammertime" played throughtout the building.

With less than a minute left, Cooper called Garon to the bench to give his squad the extra skater. Former Syracuse Crunch player, Alex Killorn (one of 10 men on the Lightning roster that Cooper coached in Syracuse) tied the game with 15.1 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into overtime.

Teddy Purcell was the Bolts' first shooter and successfully converted his effort and Hedman went top-shelf on Brodeur for the victory, as Garon stopped both attempts on his end.

It was only the third overtime game Tampa Bay had played this season; they lost in a shootout to Montreal at the Forum on February 12, and beat the Panthers in OT four days later in Sunrise.

The Lightning will host Florida on Tuesday, and having beaten them three times already, Coach Cooper may find himself starting his NHL career on a winning streak.  

 

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