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Lightning score five unanswered, hand Flames their sixth loss in a row

CALGARY — Led by a big night by Alex Killorn on Thursday, Tampa Bay took advantage of a rare off-night by Mike Smith.
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CALGARY — Led by a big night by Alex Killorn on Thursday, Tampa Bay took advantage of a rare off-night by Mike Smith.

Killorn tied a career-high for points with two goals and two assists as the Lightning erupted for five unanswered goals, including four in the third period, in a 7-4 win over the Calgary Flames.

"The puck hasn't really been falling my way for a lot of the season so to have a game like this, it's great and gets my confidence back," said Killorn, who had just three points over his previous 16 games.

Killorn's line with rookies Matthew Peca (one goal, two assists) and Yanni Gourde (two assists) combined for nine points.

"Early in the game, that line was really engaged and you know how it is, they get one and all of a sudden, it's like the balloon pops and now they've got the vibes going," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

Down 4-3 after two periods, Tampa Bay tied it 12 seconds into the third when Killorn pounced on a loose puck near the Flames face-off dot, spun, and sent a backhander that slipped past Smith.

"To be honest, I didn't even look at the net, I was going to try and put a backhand on net and I was pretty fortunate to see it go under his glove," Killorn said.

It was one of many that Smith would have wanted back. Same with Cory Conacher's goal from a sharp angle at 5:16.

Just over a minute later, Steven Stamkos buried his 19th of the season and that was it for Smith and his goal stick. As he got the hook from coach Glen Gulutzan for David Rittich, Smith smashed his stick across the goalpost.

"It was disappointing to let your teammates down like that and lay an egg," said Smith. "Just too many bad goals. It's plain and simple."

Smith entered the night sixth in the NHL with a .925 save percentage. Through the season's first three months, he's been the Flames' most valuable player.

"What are we in, game 51? It's the first time our goaltending couldn't be considered a star in the game," said Gulutzan.

Conacher finished the night with a pair. Braydon Coburn also scored for Tampa Bay (35-13-3), which maintains its one-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights atop the overall standings.

Micheal Ferland, Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan and Matt Stajan scored for Calgary (25-18-8). On the heels of a seven-game winning streak, the Flames are winless in their last six (0-4-2).

"We're going through a tough patch right now. There's no doubt about it," said Stajan. "Adversity has hit. We have to stick together in these walls and get through this."

Calgary has had the lead in each of the last six losses. In the last two, the Flames had leads heading into the third period only to blow it in regulation. Going back to the start of last season, Calgary had been 50-0-3 in that scenario prior to this week.

"We've got to learn from it," said Monahan. "The big thing is managing the puck at certain times of the game. When we have a lead there we have to find ways to keep it."

The Lightning improved to 4-2-0 on this stretch of eight straight games on the road.

"We needed to have a look in the mirror and come out with a lot more urgency and compete after the Winnipeg game (3-1 loss) and I thought we did that," said Stamkos.

Trailing 4-2 in the second, Peca started the comeback when his long shot eluded Smith just 22 seconds after Stajan had put Calgary ahead 4-2.

Smith stopped just 21-of-27 shots to fall to 20-15-6. Rittich had three stops.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who improved to 30-9-2, had 42 saves.

Notes: Ferland has scored the first goal in a game five times, which leads the team.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press