On a night they said goodbye to teammate Dominic Moore, the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to bid farewell to their flickering postseason hopes.
It took two goals by Steven Stamkos and a late overtime score by Martin St. Louis for the Lightning to emerge with a 6-5 triumph against the powerful San Jose Sharks, who had trounced Tampa Bay by a combined 12-4 margin in the last two meetings.
The Lightning yielded a season-high 50 shots, but Tampa Bay never stopped competing against the Pacific Division leaders in a wildly entertaining matchup.
The winning goal came 33 seconds before the teams would have competed in a shootout. Defenseman Victor Hedman circled the net and slid a deft pass to St. Louis, who got inside position just off the right post and scored his second goal of the game, beating Antti Niemi on Tampa Bay's only shot of overtime.
Hedman's third assist of the evening improved Tampa Bay to 25-26-6, and Stamkos was credited with an assist on the play to complete a four-point night.
"It was a fun game and a great win,'' Stamkos said. "We stayed with the program, and when you get pucks to the net, good things happen.''
The win came hours after the Lightning announced Moore had been traded to San Jose for a second-round draft choice.
The team also said it was working on a deal to move veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina, who was held out of the game. Kubina has a limited no-trade clause and was asked for a list of teams he would approve playing for.
Teddy Purcell and Steve Downie also scored for the Lightning, who were clinging to a 5-4 lead when Tommy Wingels beat Dwayne Roloson from the slot off a nice feed from Logan Couture with 5:10 left in regulation.
Roloson turned in some spectacular sprawling saves in overtime, stopping five shots in the extra session.
"It was a big character win,'' said St. Louis, who had posted only one point in his previous five games. "Who knows? You start off tonight 10 points back and then you win one or two and all of a sudden, who knows, maybe you can get back in it.''
Stamkos forged a 4-4 tie with his second goal of the game, a wrister from the slot at 2:44 of the third period, and the Lightning took their third lead of the night 5 minutes later.
Vinny Lecavalier kept the puck in the zone and backhanded a pass that ended up on the stick of St. Louis down low. St. Louis flipped the puck out front and it deflected into the net off a Sharks defenseman.
The Sharks launched 20 shots at Roloson in a lopsided second period, scoring three times to grab a 4-3 advantage as Tampa Bay mustered four shots.
Michal Handzus scored off a rebound for San Jose at the 1:44 mark, seconds after Lightning defenseman Brett Clark dislodged the net. The sequence was reviewed and the goal was upheld, forging a 2-2 tie.
Only 29 seconds after Downie beat Niemi from a sharp angle, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored for the Sharks from the slot and San Jose kept surging before an announced crowd of 16,819 at the Forum.
With 4:16 remaining in the second period, defenseman Colin White scored on a rebound to put San Jose back ahead. That was bad news for the home team, because the Sharks were 22-1-3 when taking a lead into the third period.
It took only 76 seconds for Couture to stake San Jose to a 1-0 lead, scoring a power-play goal off a scramble in front.
Stamkos registered his league-leading 38th goal midway through the opening period, scoring on a back-hander from below the right faceoff circle.
Purcell put the Lightning ahead 2-1 only 25 seconds before intermission with a wrist shot from the left circle as Ryan Malone provided an effective screen in front of Niemi.
"That's the word that came to mind – character,'' said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. "With us, it's not how we fall, it's how we get up.''