The Edmonton Oilers are slowly becoming road warriors.
After defeating Detroit, Dallas and Florida on their current six-game road trip, the Oilers rolled into the St. Pete Times Forum and claimed their fourth consecutive victory with a 3-2 win over the Lightning on Wednesday night that extended their unbeaten streak in the month of December.
“We got better as the game went on. I thought we carried the flow of the game for the majority of the night,” Oilers head coach Pat Quinn said. “J.D. [Jeff Deslauriers] made some big stops for us tonight. We did some god stuff, and I think we’re doing the little things to help us win games.”
Deslauriers made 32 saves on 34 shots against in his fourth consecutive victory.
“I’m pretty happy about it [winning four straight], but after tonight those wins don’t mean a lot. We have to redo it all again in our next game, but we’ll enjoy the win right now and tomorrow we need to get back on track and prepare for the next one,” the Oilers net minder said.
Martin St. Louis netted the game’s first goal at 1:08 of the opening period, finishing off a two-on-one odd man rush after receiving a perfect feed from Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. Ryan Malone also recorded an assist on the goal, his third in his last five contests, before leaving the game in the first period with a lower body injury. He did not return.
“I thought that Vinny [Lecavalier] was excellent tonight, and Marty [St. Louis]. They played their hearts out and all the other guys followed,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “The guys played really hard, especially that third period.”
Edmonton tied the game at 11:21 on a goal by Tom Gilbert and took its first lead at 6:31 in the middle frame as an errant pass deflected off the stick of Bolts goaltender Mike Smith before Oilers forward Dustin Penner shot the loose puck in the net for a 2-1 advantage.
The lead, however, didn’t last long.
Just two games after recording his first career NHL goal, Victor Hedman found the back of the net once again at 7:34 with a slap shot from the left circle that knotted the game at two after ringing the underside of the crossbar.
The Oilers, though, returned the favor approximately five minutes later with what proved to be the game-winning goal by Zack Stortini.
In addition to Malone, the Lightning’s leading goal scorer, Steven Stamkos, also left the game early in the second period with an upper body injury and did not return.
“Teams go through injuries. It’s our turn and you’ve got to suck it up,” Tocchet said. “The guys that haven’t played much, the guys that have been asking to play more, here’s your chance. It’s put up or shut up for some of those guys. They want ice time, they’re going to get it. Let’s see what they’ve got.”
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