On a night in which Vincent Lecavalier recorded his 700th career point, perhaps none were more important as the two the Lightning picked up in Friday’s well-played 6-3 win over the Blues at the Scottrade Center.
The Lightning captain was one of seven who led all skaters on the score sheet with two points, joined by teammates Martin St. Louis, Jeff Halpern, Steven Stamkos and Kurtis Foster, who each tallied goals in the contest.
Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay also recorded a pair of assists in the win, which snapped a six-game skid.
“I think we were definitely in the game. We battled back and the goal by Marty [St. Louis] really set us on the right foot,” Stamkos added.
St. Louis erased a one-goal deficit to open the game just 33 seconds after Brad Winchester had put the Blues up 1-0 at 10:04, as the Bolts winger finished a 2-on-1 odd-man rush with his seventh goal of the season from Alex Tanguay to tie the game at one halfway through the first period.
“The timing of the goal was big. It was a great play by Tanguay and a heads-up goal by me,” St. Louis said. “It’s been a tough stretch, but in moments like this, if you hang together, you come out as a better team. It’s an experience that we’ll be better from. We’re pressing to score goals, but we have to do it the right way.”
St. Louis and Malone each earned a plus-4 rating in the game, which was the second of the team’s fifth back-to-back set this season.
As a result of Friday’s victory, Tampa Bay extended its streak in the second half of games on consecutive nights to 4-0-1.
As the second period opened, Stamkos didn’t waste any time extending the lead. The Lightning’s top goal scorer one-timed a slap shot from the left circle at 0:36 for his 19th of the season. Stamkos later added an additional tally, which marked the second consecutive time in which the 2008 first overall draft pick has recorded 20 goals in a season.
“[Kurtis] Foster gave me a good pass and I knew I had him [St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason] beat, so I just shot it and it went in,” Stamkos said.
Foster put the Lightning up 3-1 approximately halfway through the middle frame with a slap shot from just below the blue line that traveled through traffic out in front before finding the back of the net.
The Blues’ T.J. Oshie cut the deficit in half at 3:58 after a shot by Paul Kariya banked off the side of the net and into the slot before being sent into the net. But before the public address announcer could announce the goal, Halpern, who recorded his first two-goal game of the season just 24 hours after having surgery performed on his jaw stemming from an incident the previous night in Detroit, regained the two-goal lead with his sixth of the season coming off Lecavalier’s 700th career point.
St. Louis, however, did not back down.
Keith Tkachuk netted his seventh goal coming with the man advantage to make the score 4-3 with approximately 11 minutes left to play in regulation, but for the second time in the period, Halpern followed up with another one of his own at 11:15 which put Tampa Bay up by a pair.
Stamkos later iced the game at 19:02 with an empty net goal, ranking him in fourth place among all NHL goal scorers.
“I think everybody struggles in their career but you have to draw on something. It was a good challenge for our team,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “Everybody has had some point in their career when they’ve had to be inspired by something, so whatever it is, use it. Tonight was a big game for us.”
Bolts defenseman Matt Walker took an early exit from the contest after suffering a lower body injury in the first period and forward Steve Downie did not play for the second consecutive game after suffering an injury on Tuesday at Nashville.
Victor Hedman, who missed his last game against the Red Wings with a foot injury, returned to action and recorded one assist.
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.