All it took for the Tampa Bay Lightning to get back on the winning track was a little rest and relaxation.
On Tuesday, the team traveled south to Naples for a round of golf and a team dinner, all to break up a monotonous 12-game home stand. On Wednesday, it returned home to earn an 8-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes at the St. Pete Times Forum.
“Our offense tonight was all about pucks on net,” head coach Guy Boucher said. “If you look at all our goals, it started with a battle, with a shot and with a guy in front of the net.”
Teddy Purcell recorded his first career hat trick, Martin St. Louis scored twice and Vincent Lecavalier also had a goal and tied a career-high with five points for Tampa Bay, who snapped a three-game winless streak.
Dwayne Roloson made 25 saves and gave the Lightning over 32 minutes of shutout hockey through the first period and a half before Martin Hanzal scored at 12:28 of the second period.
“We weren’t happy with our last two losses,” Purcell said. “So with three days off, we wanted to reward the organization and ourselves for those efforts by coming out with a strong one tonight.”
Kyle Turris and David Schlemko also scored for Phoenix, who had its season-high eight-game win streak snapped. It lost for the first time since Feb. 2 in a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Vancouver.
Jason LaBarbera made 31 saves on the night after starter Ilya Bryzgalov had started the previous 19 games, including Tuesday night's 3-2 overtime victory at Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay’s eight goals tied a season-high record following an 8-7 victory over the Flyers Nov. 18. Wednesday’s goal total fell one shy of tying a franchise record.
“You never expect 8-3,” Boucher said. “If you expect that, you’re never going to get it. Expectations have to be that it’s going to be a tight game.”
It wasn’t, as the Lightning jumped out to a big lead with seven consecutive goals to open the game.
Purcell made it 1-0 when a wrist shot from the along the boards deflected off a stick out in front and found its way to the net at 1:59.
St. Louis doubled the lead just 1:02 later with his 21st of the year and cashed in his second of the night on the power play at 7:54 to put Tampa Bay up 3-0.
His 22nd of the season was the first of three with the man advantage in the period, setting a new team season-high record.
Steven Stamkos and Lecavalier each scored three minutes apart to increase the lead to five to close out the first.
“It’s embarrassing, just flat embarrassing,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “I think as a player you feel the worst for a guy like Jason LaBarbera who does nothing but compete for us every single night and does everything he can for us every single day at practice.”
Purcell’s pair of goals in the second completed his three-goal night before Adam Hall’s seventh of the season made it 8-1 at 4:52 in the final period.
“That was pretty cool,” Purcell said after fans showered him with hats from the stands. “That was my first hat trick since street hockey when I was 10 or 12 years old probably. To get a hat trick and then two points, that’s a pretty special night.”
Phoenix came back with two consecutive goals 1:28 apart to cut the deficit to five in the third period.
“For us, we haven’t gotten the results the last three games,” said St. Louis, who notched his 750th career point. “I don’t care if we think we played good, we still deserved better. At this time of the year, it’s all about results, so I’m glad we went after the result and got what we wanted.”
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