The Wild were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tampa Bay continued its recent tear on home ice, picking up a 10th consecutive victory at Amalie Arena on Tuesday after rallying 4-2 to hand the Wild a third loss in a row at the end of their four-game road trip.
This was also the Lightning's first regulation victory against the Wild in nine meetings after the Wild went 7-0-1 over the past five years.
How the Wild lost: A fluky goal decided a competitive battle between the Wild and the Stanley Cup champions from 2020 and 2021.
Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos banked the puck into the net off the Wild's Ryan Hartman with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the third period to polish off the Lightning's comeback with their first lead of the night.
"It's hard to lose on a goal like that," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury told reporters in Tampa.
Twice the Lightning erased one-goal deficits, setting up a photo finish that saw both goaltenders ready for the end-to-end action. After Fleury stretched out for a snazzy glove save on Brandon Hagel in the third, Andrei Vasilevskiy denied Sam Steel's backhand during one of the Wild's best looks.
Overall, Fleury posted 35 saves and Vasilevskiy had 33.
"There's a time in that third period we're really pouring it on," said Matt Dumba, who returned to the Wild lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games. "They bent, and they didn't break."
Nikita Kucherov scored into an empty net with 17 seconds to go for a two-point finish after factoring into Stamkos' game-winner, while Mikhail Sergachev and Ross Colton each picked up two assists. Marcus Foligno was back in action for the Wild after missing the previous game because of illness.
"We played pretty good," Fleury said. "This is a good team, and we hung around with them. Tough loss, for sure."
Turning point: Tampa Bay veteran Corey Perry had an answer for every Wild goal.
Joel Eriksson Ek capitalized on a breakaway 3:43 into the second period for his 17th goal of the season and the Wild's eighth shorthanded, which rank second in the NHL. The eight shorthanded tallies are also tied for the most through 46 games in franchise history.
"They're doing it by being aggressive and blocking or having good sticks," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "We're scoring penalty kill goals the right way."
But Perry responded at 9:44 when he deflected in a Colton shot just seconds after the Wild were back to full strength following a penalty kill.
The Wild moved ahead only 1:58 later when Kirill Kaprizov buried the rebound off an Eriksson Ek shot for his team-leading 27th goal.
Kaprizov's 13 tallies on the power play are two away from Brian Rolston's 2005-06 record for most in a Wild season. As for Eriksson Ek, he's up to six points during a four-game point streak.
Once again, he tipped in a Colton windup, this time on the power play. The Lightning went 1-for-5, while the Wild were 1-for-4. Their skid started last Thursday at Carolina with eight penalties in a 5-2 loss.
"Too many penalties again, there's no question about that," Evason said.
What it means: This is the Wild's second three-game slide in January, and not since the start of the season have the Wild dropped three in a row in regulation.
They have yet to lose four in a row.
Yes, a fortuitous bounce for the Lightning was the deciding goal, but the Wild didn't come up with that play. Tampa Bay did. For a second consecutive game, the Wild didn't score at even strength. They converted twice on the power play and once at 6-on-5 in the 5-3 setback at Florida on Saturday.
Now they return home, but the Wild won't have much time to turn the page on this 1-3 road trip; they have just a pair of games before their bye week and the All-Star break.
"Look ourselves in the mirror, myself included," Hartman said. "Obviously, we're not going to dwell on it. We're professionals. We gotta come back hard next game."
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.