After seeing Steven Stamkos walk for the first time with no crutches or walking boot to his press conference earlier in the day, he pulled off another stunt later on. During Martin St. Louis’ pre-game ceremony, Stamkos walked out to present St. Louis with a scrapbook of his career on behalf of the team and to congratulate him on his 1,000th career game.
“It was very emotional, the whole presentation,” St. Louis said. “Seeing my wife, kids, and parents and then seeing the video, I couldn’t watch, I almost lost it.”
Before the ceremony, St. Louis confessed to head coach Jon Cooper he was nervous he would not be able to keep it together and they had a chuckle after the game.
“I said, ‘nobody is going to remember when you get two goals in one period,’” Cooper said. “We laughed about it and then he ended up getting two goals in one period. It’s definitely going to be memorable; a lot of firsts.”
But when all was said and done, the Bolts transformed the emotions into momentum, snapping a four-game losing streak, as goaltender Ben Bishop earned his second shutout of the season.
“If you asked any of the guys the biggest thing was we got two points,” Cooper said. “It was against an Eastern Conference team that I’m sure we’ll be battling with points-wise down the road. It was a good night.”
The momentum swing was felt as early as the opening frame with two quick tallies putting the Rangers on the losing side of things. On his first shot on his first shift in his NHL debut, Nikita Kucherov was fed a pass from Teddy Purcell in the corner of the Blueshirts’ zone. Kucherov took a shot from the right face-off circle that passed by netminder Henrik Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead two minutes into the contest.
“I felt nervous before the game,” Kucherov said. “After I scored the goal my nerves went away. I was just in the right spot in the right time and it felt good.”
Less than two minutes later, St. Louis zipped down the slot and added another for a 2-0 lead at the 3:10 mark of the first.
“Scoring early kind of helps everything settle in,” St. Louis said. “To be able to win the game and contribute, I felt like myself tonight; a blast from the past.”
In between the goals, P.C. Labrie dropped the gloves with Derek Dorsett to help keep momentum in Tampa Bay’s favor. Labrie ended up succumbing to injury, as it was announced he left the game with an upper body injury. Walking around the locker room post-game with a brace on his left arm, Cooper said he does not expect it to be serious.
The Lightning doubled their lead in the middle frame with St. Louis’ second goal and Purcell’s first. St. Louis marker, which made it 3-0, was the first time he has scored two goals in a game since October 15 in a tilt versus the Los Angeles Kings at the Times Forum. Purcell’s, who notched his second point, came after Brad Richards thought Kucherov layed down a trip. Purcell took advantage of a Richards on the ground by skating down the right side of the ice to net the tally at 16:52 of the second.
Purcell added his third point of the game with 1:01 remaining in the contest to solidify the Bolts victory.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay will have a day off Tuesday, before returning to the ice to face Vincent Lecavalier and the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday at home. The highly anticipated match will be the former captain’s first time back to Tampa Bay since parting ways with the team at the end of last season. The tilt is also the second of four straight games against the Metropolitan Division.