On a night in which veteran Martin St. Louis was saluted for playing in his 400th consecutive game, a fellow long-tenured teammate found himself equally deserving of applause.
Dan Ellis made 23 saves to record his 11th career shutout as Tampa Bay won its second straight and moved into a first-place tie in the NHL standings with 15 points following a 3-0 shutout at Jobing.com Arena.
Ellis, who made 24 saves on as many shots in relief of Mike Smith on Wednesday against Pittsburgh, turned in a spectacular performance for the second straight game, extending his shutout streak to 107:43 while earning his first whitewash in a Lightning sweater.
Even so, he couldn’t help but deflect praise to his Lightning teammates.
“Our team is starting to play better defensively. They’re giving the goalie a chance to play well,” Ellis said. “Our guys played great tonight, and our defense, hats off to them.”
Tampa Bay registered 19 blocked shots, coming just one short of tying a season-high for the third time through 10 games. St. Louis, who holds the NHL’s fourth-longest active consecutive games played streak, tied for the team lead with four.
“He just plays so hard every night,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “There are few guys in the league who are as respected and as classy as Marty. It’s amazing that he played in his 400th consecutive game tonight. That’s a huge accomplishment and it says a lot about him.”
“You’re fortunate enough to play this game so to get your 400th consecutive one, I’m pleased with that,” St. Louis added.
Ritola took a pass from Blair Jones, who collected the puck along the boards behind the net, and wrapped it around to beat Ilya Bryzgalov through the pads.
“I chipped it in and we had a great forecheck by Malone,” Ritola said. “He was right there, I got the puck behind the net and I went around and it went in.”
Jones, who made his season debut after being recalled from the team’s top minor-league affiliate in Norfolk on Tuesday, was credited with an assist. Bryzgalov finished 20 saves.
“It was a great feeling,” Ritola added. “It’s been 12 games and I’ve always been there, but to get the first one is great.”
Hall made it 2-0 at 4:26 in the third when he deflected Nate Thompson’s pass through the goal mouth off the skate of Phoenix defenseman David Schlemko and into the net.
Randy Jones helped Tampa Bay out to a 3-0 advantage when he found Steve Downie in the high slot with a precise pass from center ice. Downie took the feed across the blue line and dished it off to Stamkos, who skated around a defender before lifting an elevated backhand by Bryzgalov at 14:38.
“You see our guys working so hard that they’re making things happen on our side,” Head Coach Guy Boucher said. “That’s always extremely rewarding for the players, for the staff, for everybody.”
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