Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Steven Stamkos' goal with 5:04 remaining in the third period snapped a tie game and helped lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 triumph over the Minnesota Wild at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tyler Johnson added a power-play tally to support a 25-save performance by Ben Bishop that sent the surprising Lightning to a fifth victory in their last six games, with Sami Salo sealing the outcome on an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
"It's not just me, it's the guys in front of me," Bishop said of his recent success. "The guys are playing great."
The Wild, meanwhile, dropped a second straight decision following a three-game win streak and have mustered just four goals over their three most recent outings.
Mikko Koivu accounted for Minnesota's lone score and Josh Harding turned back 27-of-29 shots in a losing effort.
With the contest knotted at 1-1 and the teams engaged in a 4-on-4 situation, Tampa Bay's Matt Carle sent the puck along the right boards and Stamkos outraced the Wild defenseman Ryan Suter to it. The playmaking center then skated in alone on Harding and placed a shot between the goaltender's pads that sent the Lightning in front with just over five minutes to play.
"We make a mistake, and obviously you can't give a player like that an opportunity," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said of Stamkos' breakaway goal.
Tampa Bay kept the pressure on despite gaining the lead, as Harding wasn't able to rush off for an extra attacker until around 20 seconds were left. Right as he reached the bench, Salo sent a blind clearing attempt from his own zone that found its way into the opposing goal with just 17.2 seconds showing on the clock.
Minnesota had drawn even less than four minutes prior to Stamkos' goal. A Lightning turnover led to a Wild rush that ended with Nino Niederreiter feeding Koivu for a successful wrister into the upper right corner of the net that created a 1-1 deadlock with 8:55 to play.
The only goal during the first two periods came as a result of a Tampa Bay power play. With the Wild's Jason Pominville in the box for tripping, Johnson took in a cross-ice feed from Valtteri Filppula and fired the puck over a diving Harding from the left circle with 5:58 remaining in the opening session.
Bishop made the lead stand by coming up with 13 saves during a busy second period, and the Lightning killed off a pair of penalties in the frame to maintain their one-goal edge into the final 20 minutes.