The Tampa Bay Lightning have been so good lately, that even a single loss couldn’t put a blemish on what has otherwise been a stretch of success recently.
After winning seven of its past nine games, Tampa Bay fell 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night, which put an end to the Lightning’s three-game winning streak.
Kris Russell, Kevin Shattenkirk and TJ Oshie each had goals for St. Louis, which won for just the third time in its past seven tries.
“We started well,” Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. “I thought we had good jump and did some good things. They got that first one, but we had a few good looks on the power play and it was just unfortunate we couldn’t capitalize on them.”
Russell, making his Blues debut, opened the scoring with a slap shot from the left point that got through traffic and snuck past Mathieu Garon with just 1:09 to go in the first period.
The first 20 minutes could have been even worse for the Lightning, had St. Louis not hit two posts to start the game before Russell’s opening tally.
Garon finished the night with 21 saves.
The Blues improved to 2-0-1 under new coach Ken Hitchcock, whose puck-control, transition game was something the Lightning had trouble controlling throughout the night.
St. Louis also played incredibly stingy in all areas of the ice, then contained Tampa Bay in all three zones.
It appeared Tampa Bay would head into the second intermission down by just one goal, leaving plenty to chance for a fourth consecutive comeback effort.
Instead, Shattenkirk doubled the lead with four seconds to go in the middle frame.
After Bruno Gervais had his shot blocked in St. Louis’ own zone, Jamie Langenbrunner found Alex Steen streaking down the left boards. Steen fought off Brett Clark, then sent a pass to Shattenkirk, who buried it past Garon at 19:54 to take a 2-0 lead heading into the third.
“We needed to simplify our game,” Gervais said. “We gave them too many open chances and didn’t win enough battles in that second period.”
Tampa Bay managed just two shots throughout the entire second frame, the fewest it has mustered through 20 minutes all season. It didn’t get off even one shot for the final 14:04 of the period.
Garon’s giveaway with the Lightning on the power play led to a 3-0 St. Louis lead early in the third.
The Lightning net minder was stripped of the puck behind his own net, allowing Oshie to wrist one into an open cage while shorthanded at 6:26.
Brian Elliott stopped all 19 shots faced, which were also the fewest attempted by the Lightning thus far this season.
The Blues goaltender came up with a number of key saves throughout the night, including a pair of chances on Brett Connolly and another on Dominic Moore in the third period as the Lightning forward spun off a defender and skated in towards the net.
Elliott also succeeded in shutting down a pair that had been producing against them over the course of their respective careers.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, Steven Stamkos had four goals and eight points in three career meetings going in, while Martin St. Louis had registered four goals and 13 points in the last seven meetings against St. Louis.