TAMPA, Fla. – Martin St. Louis posted three points and the Tampa Bay Lightning extended their winning streak to three games on Tuesday night, defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3. As the Lightning started a five-game home stand at the St. Pete Times Forum they claimed the lone meeting of the season between the teams.
Martin St. Louis (26) fires the puck past Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson (35) and scores in the second period. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Vincent Lecavalier added a pair of points in the contest, recording his 30th goal of the season for the eventual game-winner. Goaltender Johan Holmqvist posted the decision with a 25-save effort, recording his fourth consecutive victory for the Lightning.
Early in the first period Vaclav Prospal and St. Louis combined for one of their first chances of the night. Following up on a St. Louis shot from the left faceoff circle, Prospal forced Oilers netminder Dwayne Roloson to make a pad save in front of the net. Lecavalier followed up the attempt at the side of the crease, but Roloson held off the Lightning center.
Holmqvist made a number of strong saves during the opening frame, denying Alex Hemsky and Kyle Brodziak with a pair of pad saves. As Brodziak skated down the left wing he fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle, but Holmqvist held off the attempt.
Late in the period Holmqvist denied Ladislav Smid with a glove save as the Oiler defenseman fired a one-timed slapshot through traffic.
Johan Holmqvist posted a strong 25-save performance for his fourth win in a row . (APPhoto/Chris O'Meara)
Following a scoreless first period it took less than a minute for Brad Richards to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Notching his 14th goal of the season, Richards kicked off a string of three unanswered goals for Tampa Bay.
After St. Louis flipped a backhanded shot to the front of the net Jan Hlavac carried the puck to the right of Roloson. Hlavac returned a pass to St. Louis in the slot before the Lightning winger forwarded a pass down to Richards at the side of the crease. As Roloson sprawled through his crease Richards popped a shot into the open side of the net.
“It was good patience by Hlavac,” St. Louis said. “He made a great play to me and after that it was pretty simple. Richards was by himself with an empty net. Those are nice.”
Although Roloson went on to hold off a shot by Chris Gratton and Mathieu Darche turned over the puck at the right faceoff circle, Craig MacDonald posted his first goal of the season to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.
Capitalizing on a turnover by Nick Tarnasky at the left side boards, MacDonald picked up the puck at the faceoff circle. The Lightning center rifled a shot that beat Roloson low to the glove side.
As the Oilers skated with the man-advantage midway through the second period, Holmqvist smothered a shot by Sheldon Souray from the point. Moments later the penalty-killing unit carried the puck up the ice to connect for a three-goal lead.
Brad Lukowich made the initial outlet pass to Lecavalier at the blue line. As Lecavalier passed the puck ahead to St. Louis he cut to the top of the crease. Tipping a shot on goal, St. Louis collected the short rebound and backhanded the puck under Roloson’s left leg for his second short-handed goal of the season.
Less than a minute after the St. Louis goal Andrew Cogliano scored to put Edmonton on the board. Flicking a loose puck into the net at 9:52 of the second period, Cogliano snapped Holmqvist’s shutout streak.
Entering the contest on the heels of a pair of shutouts, Holmqvist’s shutout streak ended at 151:37. The mark stands as the fourth-longest shutout streak in franchise history. Goaltender John Grahame set the team record from January 17-29, 2006, going 202:46 without allowing a goal.
Tampa Bay continued to pressure Edmonton through the period with Richards getting a strong shot off against Roloson deep in the zone. Following the play Hlavac looked to tip the puck off a shot by Jason Ward but Roloson dropped to his crease and covered the puck with his glove.
Holmqvist followed up the attempt with a sliding save against Dustin Penner. As Shawn Horcoff skated down the right wing he backhanded a pass across to Penner as he skated down the left side of the slot. Holmqvist stretched across the goal line, denying Penner’s shot with a pad save.
As the Lightning carried a two-goal lead into the final period Lecavalier scored at 5:51 of the third for his 30th goal of the season. After settling the puck at the top of the right faceoff circle, Lecavalier slapped a shot through Roloson’s five-hole to convert a Tampa Bay power play.
With his goal Lecavalier set a new franchise record for most consecutive 30-goal seasons. Lecavalier has recorded 30 or more goals in each of his previous five seasons.
Midway through the period Holmqvist covered up a wrap-around attempt by Marty Reasoner, but Steve Staios found the back of the net to bring the Oilers within two. Staios slapped a shot past Holmqvist to score his fifth goal of the season at 12:55. With a little more than one minute remaining in the game Hemsky added a third Oilers goal but it wasn’t enough for a comeback.
With the victory Holmqvist posted his fourth consecutive win for the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won three consecutive games, out-scoring their opponents 9-3 during the stretch.
“Holmer’s [Holmqvist] given us a chance to win every night,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “It’s no secret in this league you need to have good goaltending and Holmer’s been great.”
“I think we’ve been playing a lot better lately,” Holmqvist said. “We’ve been playing pretty strong defense and we have to start from there.”
Edmonton out-shot Tampa Bay 28-22 in the contest and Lecavalier and St. Louis led the Lightning with five shots apiece. Both clubs connected once on the power play.
“We’re giving ourselves a chance, and that’s what we wanted and try to implement in this locker room,” St. Louis said. “I think we’ve done a good job of that.”
Tuesday’s contest also marked head coach John Tortorella’s 506th game as a head coach. Tortorella tied the late Herb Brooks for the most games coached by an American-born coach.
The Lightning continue their home stand on Thursday, January 24 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) with a match-up against the Ottawa Senators. The game marks the fourth and final meeting between the clubs.
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