The Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off its landmark 20th Anniversary season in celebratory fashion.
Martin St. Louis and Eric Brewer each scored twice, Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and Anders Lindback made 27 saves as the Lightning rolled to a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.
Cory Conacher, making his NHL debut, had the other goal for Tampa Bay, which improved to 12-6-2 in season-opening games.
“It was definitely a good game right from the get-go,” Lecavalier said. “A little too much back and forth, but I thought we played a solid game.”
The loss marked just the second time in the past four years that Washington dropped its first game of the season.
Joel Ward had two goals for the Capitals, while Wojtek Wolski added the other goal for Washington and also recorded an assist.
Braden Holtby made 28 saves.
“At first there might have been a little rust,” Holtby said. “We’re just trying to get back into the swing of things.”
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, certainly did just that.
While the start of the evening called for a celebration of the past, the conclusion of the contest was reserved more for the present.
Brewer opened the scoring when he took a feed from Matt Carle along the boards and wristed one past Holtby at 6:24.
He then capped off the scoring with the game’s final goal, doubling his goal total from all of last season in just the season’s first game.
Ward and Lecavalier exchanged goals midway through the frame which helped Tampa Bay regain its one-goal lead. Ward beat Lindback from in close at 8:25 while on the power play, just 44 seconds before Lecavalier took a rebound from out in front and fired it into the empty cage for a 2-1 advantage.
After Ward drew Washington even with his second of the night, St. Louis took a crisp feed from Lecavalier and beat Holtby while with the man advantage to put the Bolts back up 3-2.
Wolski tied it at three in the final minutes of the second period, but Tampa Bay wouldn’t relent.
St. Louis’ second goal of the game, again on the power play, made it 4-3 after he slapped one home from the point at 4:57.
The Lightning forward also had an assist in the game for a total of three points, tying Teddy Purcell for a single-game team high.
Purcell had three assists on the night, including the lone helper on Conacher’s goal that made it 5-3 at 13:24.
“It was very awesome,” Conacher said. “I couldn’t have done it without these guys. Obviously the win is more important, so hopefully we can keep this rolling. We have three games in four nights, so it will be important for us to get some rest for our next game.”
Conacher’s goal came at even strength, but overall on the night, Tampa Bay had success on the power play, going three-for-seven.
“You could feel the chemistry on the bench and in the room,” Lightning
head coach Guy Boucher said. “Credit to the players. When we were off, they trained. We didn’t have to start from scratch.”