By Dory LeBlanc
The Lightning entered Saturday's game in Phoenix 7-0-0 against the Western Conference and coming off a 5-1 victory against the league's top team, the Ducks, on Thursday.
The Bolts had one other impressive stat entering the game against the Coyotes: they had the NHL's fourth best penalty kill at 86.8%.
Both of those would change after the first of a four-game west coast trip.
The game was scoreless for nearly 16 minutes until the Coyotes were able to do what few teams have been all season - score a power play goal against the Bolts. With Andrej Sustr off for tripping, Michael Stone hit a slapshot at 15:58 for the 1-0 lead and Martin Hanzal followed up with a wrister to give Phoenix a two-goal lead less than a minute later.
As the buzzer sounded to end the first, Alex Killorn was called for slashing Hanzal, giving the Coyotes a power play to begin the second.
One minute into the middle stanza, BJ Crombeen was sent off for tripping Keith Yandle, forcing the Lightning to fight off a 5-on-3. After some scrambling around the net, Mike Riberio found the puck to make it 3-0 48 seconds into the two-man advantage and ending Ben Bishop's night.
Bishop spoke to a trainer and left the bench but returned minutes later according to the team. No update on Bishop's status has been announced by Tampa Bay, but his return to the bench is a positive sign.
Playing with a three-goal deficit, the Lightning finally got on the board at 16:19 as Richard Panik's wrister went high past Mike Smith's glove to close the lead to 3-1.
Connor Murphy answered with a slapshot 46 seconds later to briefly regain the three-goal lead, but at 17:55 JT Brown, called up when Steven Stamkos suffered a broken tibia, scored his first NHL goal to cut Phoenix's lead in half.
After 40 minutes, the Coyotes were up 4-2 on the Bolts, but Tampa Bay finished the second period playing hard and more focused, giving new hope that the Lightning may be able to make adjustments and keep the pace up-tempo in the third.
Veteran Shane Doan, who has been with the Coyotes franchise since it was the original Winnipeg Jets, had a different plan, scoring 1:37 into the final period of regulation.
With 1:02 remaining in the third, Martin St. Louis shot a one-timer from the right circle that Killorn was able to tip in, but with Anders Lindback off the ice, Lauri Korpikoski hit an empty netter with 19 seconds left to notch the final goal of the game and give the Coyotes a 6-3 victory over the Lightning.
Shots On Goal:
TB - 30
PHO - 30
TB - 0/2
PHO - 2/3
Next Up: Tampa Bay heads to LA to take on the Kings on Tuesday, November 19th. The Lightning defeated LA 5-1 at the Forum October 15. Coverage begins at 10pm on sister station 970 WFLA.