The Dallas Stars may have dominated the final 40 minutes of play, but the Tampa Bay Lightning never let go of their lead in a much needed 4-2 win Saturday at American Airlines Arena.
Captain Martin St. Louis scored a pair of goals in a game for the second straight time and is now riding a five-game point streak (four goals, three assists). Ondrej Palat also added assists on both St. Louis' tallies for points in four straight (three goals, three assists). Palat is now tied for second for points (37) with Tyler Johnson among rookies in the NHL.
"Clearly we were under siege for the second half of that second period," head coach Jon Cooper said. "That's a really good team over there and it's hard to come back in this league. Getting that three-goal lead, that was big for us, we found a way to hang on and kind of burst their bubble with that fourth goal in the third."
Netminder Ben Bishop was strong between the pipes picking up his 29th win of the season, which puts him in a three-way tie (Antti Niemi, Semyon Varlamov) for second in the league in the category.
"Our goalie stood tall and guys committed to blocking shots and getting pucks out," Cooper said.
"We're in a dog fight here to make the playoffs and we still have a lot of things to work on, but they battled to get two points tonight."
The message of getting more shots on goal seemed to be received loud and clear by the Bolts in the first period, as both Lightning goals came off of deflections. St. Louis scored the first at 1:25 to open scoring in the game. Eric Brewer took the initial shot, which St. Louis redirected past Dallas goaltender, Kari Lehtonen, for a 1-0 lead. Nate Thompson then helped build a two-goal lead. Victor Hedman sent one from the blue line that Thompson was able to tip in for the 2-0 score. Hedman now has 11 assists over his past 10 games.
St. Louis added his second goal of the game on a breakaway at 14:31 of the middle frame, but the Stars began to nip at the Lightning's heels and gain momentum by the close of the second.
The first of the two goals was credited to Antoine Roussel, but the puck seemed to ricochet off of Bolts defenseman Michael Kostka's skate and into Bishop's net for Dallas' first marker of the game. Then Vernon Fiddler brought the Stars within one with a wraparound tally. Bishop was unable to squeeze the puck in his pads as it trickled past the goal line for a 3-2 score at 18:11.
Sami Salo scored his first goal since October to help re-gain a two-goal lead for the Lightning. Salo took the shot at the top of the slot, which rolled past Lehtonen for a 4-2 score at 7:12 of the third. Salo is now three goals shy of 100 in his NHL career.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay heads to Colorado for the second game of back-to-backs Sunday evening versus the Avalanche. The matchup is the second and final contest between the two clubs this season. The Lightning will then head to St. Louis and face new Blues netminder Ryan Miller and Steve Ott along with the rest of the team Tuesday night at Scottrade Center.