Lecavalier Nets Two Goals, Smith Shines
Mike Smith, making his first start in net in six games, stopped 30 shots and Vincent Lecavalier had two goals and an assist to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-1 win over the Coyotes tonight in Phoenix.
The Bolts opened their four game road trip without a trace of jet lag following a flight of more than four hours, their longest regularly scheduled trek of the season. Although they ceded the first four shots in the game to the Coyotes, Lecavalier made the Lightning’s first shot on net count as his backhand from the right faceoff circle slipped between the pads of Coyote netminder Jason LaBarbera, six minutes into the first period. The tally was the third of the season for the Lightning captain, assisted by Ryan Malone and Lukas Krajicek.
Alex Tanguay stretched the Lightning lead to two when he scored his fourth goal of the season while the Bolts skated with a two-man advantage at 14:44. The goal, Tanguay’s first point of what would eventually total three points on the night, was assisted by Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos.
Smith faced several challenges during the first period, including a wrist shot from point-blank range by Keith Yandle and a breakaway by Petr Prucha, but proved equal to the task until the Coyotes got on the scoreboard with only 40 seconds remaining in the period. The goal, on a wrist shot that defenseman Adrain Aucoin launched from just inside the Lightning blue line, weaved through a crowd in front of the net and past Smith, who was screened and never saw the puck.
In period two, Tampa Bay managed just three shots on net, but Martin St. Louis made his count when he charged the net and swept a rebound of Lecavalier’s wrist shot into the Phoenix net while on his back. The highlight-reel goal was number four on the season for St. Louis and snapped an eight-game goal drought for the right winger. In addition to Lecavalier, Tanguay also earned an assist, his second point of the game, as the Bolts went ahead, 3-1.
By contrast, Smith made 13 saves in the second period, as he continued to turn aside the Coyote attempts to climb back into the game. His glove save on Radim Vrbata’s scoring attempt midway through the period was a thing of beauty, although Smith downplayed it after the game.
"You know, there's some luck involved when you play this position," Smith said. "It was nice for it to finally go my way."
Tampa Bay had several good chances to stretch their lead in the final stanza, including a 2-on-1 with Lecavalier and forward James Wright. After collecting Wright’s pass, Lecavalier’s shot rang the cross bar.
But Lecavalier finally did collect his second goal of the night with just over eight minutes remaining as his shot from the slot to the right of the net bounced off a Coyote defender and past LaBarbera. Lecavalier’s goal number four on the season was assisted by Tanguay, and provided Tampa Bay with an insurmountable three-goal advantage.
After a slow October, Tanguay has found his scoring touch and his three-point night gives him eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in his last six games.
Although out shot on the night, 31 to 19, the Lightning made their chances count and Smith took care of the rest as Tampa Bay increased their season record to 8-4-6 and leaped into eighth place in Eastern Division, just one point out of the fifth spot.
After a few days off, the western section of the current road swing continues when the Bolts visit Anaheim to face the Ducks on Thursday night.
tampabaylightning.com is the official Web site of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay Lightning and tampabaylightning.com are trademarks of Lightning Hockey L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Lightning Hockey, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.