Ben Bishop continued his red-hot play with 19 saves Friday night for his fourth shutout of the season as the Tampa Bay Lightning won 2-0 over the Calgary Flames.
Rookies Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov scored for Tampa Bay (25-12-4). A 7-1-1 run in their last nine games has the Lightning within two points of the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins.
Calgary (14-21-6) wraps up a five-game homestand with four straight regulation losses.
It started with much promise as the Flames posted a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the St. Louis Blues in the last game before Christmas. Since the break, the offence has all but dried up with Calgary only scoring one goal, by rookie Sean Monahan, in the last 245 minutes five seconds.
The Flames got defenceman Dennis Wideman back after he missed 16 games with a broken hand but even with his presence on the power play, Calgary couldn’t connect going 0 for 5 with the man advantage.
Both Lightning goals in the second period came less than 10 seconds after minor penalties to veteran Calgary forward Mike Cammalleri had expired.
Shortly after Cammalleri returned from an interference, a penalty he took while the Flames were on the man advantage, Teddy Purcell found Palat open in the slot and he sent a quick wrist shot into the top corner on Karri Ramo at 5:23.
Five minutes later, this time after Cammalleri returned from a penalty for closing his hand on the puck, the Lightning struck again. Kucherov scored with a wrist shot off a setup from Palat.
Palat extends his points streak to five games (two goals, four assists).
Perhaps the most dangerous chance it looked like Bishop was going to face came in the first period was when Mikael Backlund was hooked down on a partial breakaway by Eric Brewer.
The Flames were unable to generate much on the resulting power play.
Another great scoring chance for Calgary was negated in the second period.
Down 2-0 at the time, Joe Colborne broke into the Tampa Bay end on what appeared to be a breakaway. But play was suddenly blown down because Lightning defenceman Matthew Carle had broken his skate blade sliding into the end boards seconds earlier and was unable to get off the ice.
Making his first start in five games, Ramo was excellent for the Flames. Playing against the team that drafted him in 2006, Ramo was perfect on 13 shots in the first period, keeping Calgary in the game.
He made 27 saves on the game in falling to 6-7-3.
He was especially sharp in the third period too. As Calgary pressed to get back into the game, the Lightning were able to counter with some dangerous chances including three breakaways, each of them stopped.
Notes: Tampa Bay is 13-7-4 since C Steven Stamkos (broken leg) has been out of the lineup. Stamkos is back skating with full equipment now and is nearing a return ... Calgary LW Lance Bouma (ill) did not dress ... The Lightning improved to 16-1-1 when they score first ... The Flames have just two regulation time wins in their last 30 games. They’ve won seven games in overtime or a shootout during that stretch ... Cammalleri was a minus-2 to fall to minus-21 on the season, which is second last in the NHL ahead of only Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov (minus-25).
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