JT Wyman saw how the play was drawn up on the board, noticed it was developing as designed and made a direct line for the front of the net.
The 25-year-old Lightning rookie tied up enough bodies in front of the Montreal net to create space for Vinny Lecavalier to find a loose puck and deposit home the game-winner. The goal completed the comeback in Tampa Bay's 4-3 victory Thursday against the Canadiens in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204.
Lecavalier and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored third-period goals, while Wyman scored the first of his career late in the second. Tampa Bay scored three unanswered goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit. Mathieu Garon stopped 31 shots to pick up the victory, while Steven Stamkos notched his league-leading 23rd goal of the season.
The victory is the second consecutive for Tampa Bay on a three-game homestand that concludes New Year's Eve against Carolina. The Lightning have won four of the past six games and picked up points in five of six to stay within six points of a playoff spot.
"We are finding ways to win games right now where we were finding ways to lose them earlier,'' Stamkos said. "We told ourselves that if we could keep them at three goals that we would at least be able to tie the game and pick up a point, but we did what we do best and that's come back. It was a big win for us.''
The night was especially enjoyable for Wyman, a 2004 draft pick of Montreal who spent the previous four seasons in the Canadiens' organization, playing just three games for Montreal during the 2009-10 season. But in his third game with the Lightning since being recalled on Dec. 22, Wyman made a big impact with his second-period goal to cut the deficit to 3-2.
And it didn't matter that he had to wait for video review to confirm that his shot that squeezed through Carey Price crossed the goal line before the whistle blew the play dead with 2:22 left in the period.
"In the simplest form, I'm just trying to get a puck to the net and that's all it takes to change momentum in a game sometimes,'' Wyman said. "I wasn't trying to think about (the review) ... but the wait maybe made it a little more thrilling if you will, so it was worth it.''
As momentum-changing as the goal was, his play on Lecavalier's fifth game-winning goal of the season was just as crucial to the outcome. And just as Wyman did when playing for Lightning head coach Guy Boucher during the 2009-10 season with Montreal's farm team, Wyman did exactly as he was asked.
"I've always enjoyed him as a person and what he rings, you ask him something and he does exactly what you ask,'' Boucher said of Wyman. "He got that assist on the faceoff there because he went crashing to the net like I asked him, with his stick in the blue pain and he got it done; overpowered that guy. It's Vinny's goal, but (Wyman) did that work in front of the net, it's just as important.''
After Stamkos opened the scoring 3:43 into the game, deflecting a Pavel Kubina wrist shot, Montreal stormed back with three consecutive goals. But the Lightning rallied to win for the fifth time this season when trailing entering the third period, most in the league.
"This team has a lot of character because it's not easy in this league to come back when you are down two goals,'' Kubina said. "But we came back, we battled to the end and picked up two big points.''
Helped by Wyman's big two-point night.