ST. LOUIS – Scoring one goal and adding two assists, Martin St. Louis led the charge as the Tampa Bay Lightning won their five consecutive road game. In the only match-up against the St. Louis Blues this season, Vincent Lecavalier and Paul Ranger added multi-point nights as Tampa Bay skated to a 5-4 win.
Ranger recorded one goal and one assist, and Nick Tarnasky scored the game-winner in the game. Jason Ward and Craig MacDonald rounded out the scoring for the Lightning, while Johan Holmqvist made 21 saves to post his 18th win of the season.
Early in the game Holmqvist made one of 12 first-period saves when he covered a deflected shot in his crease. After Paul Kariya gained control of the puck at the left faceoff circle, he turned to flip a backhanded shot on net. David Backes tried to bat the puck down at the top of the crease, but Holmqvist held on for the Lightning.
Minutes later Paul Ranger opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the season. After Ranger kicked a blue-line pass from Dan Boyle down to Martin St. Louis at the left faceoff circle, the Tampa Bay winger returned the pass to the slot. Ranger jumped into the play and leaned into a wrist shot, sending the puck high into the top right corner of the net against Manny Legace.
Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis is congratulated by teammates Vincent Lecavalier (4) and Chris Gratton (77) after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues in the second period on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Responding 28 seconds later, Brad Boyes scored his team-leading 30th goal of the season to tie the game at one. Converting a tape-to-tape pass by Andy McDonald, Boyes fired a shot from the left faceoff circle that deflected before going high to the glove side.
Late in the period Vaclav Prospal tested Legace with a shot from the left faceoff circle after Jan Hlavac fought for control of the puck off the back boards. Holmqvist held off Ryan Johnson on a similar shot at the opposite net moments later, sending the contest into the middle frame tied at one.
For the second consecutive period the teams exchanged a pair of goals, with Martin St. Louis and Keith Tkachuk connecting for their respective teams.
Early in the frame David Perron skated around the Lightning defense and into the goal mouth before firing off a backhanded shot. Holmqvist got a glove on the attempt before Tampa Bay gained their second lead of the night.
Converting a man-advantage opportunity at 6:55, Martin St. Louis tipped a shot by Lecavalier for his 20th goal of the season. After Chris Gratton dished the puck out from the corner to Lecavalier at the right wing, Lecavalier stepped off the right boards to wrist a shot on goal. Martin St. Louis got the blade of his stick on the puck, directing it high to Legace’s right stick side.
With the goal, Martin St. Louis became the third 20-goal scorer on the Lightning this season. Lecavalier leads the club with 31 goals, while Prospal has connected 22 times.
Tampa Bay looked to build their lead minutes later when MacDonald turned over the puck in the offensive zone. Forwarding a pass to Tarnasky in the slot, the Lightning winger settled the puck for a shot on goal, but Legace held on for the save.
Despite the attempt, Tkachuk connected on the power play at 14:02 to tie the game at two. Deflecting a shot by Eric Brewer from the point, Tkachuk posted his 17th goal of the season.
Although St. Louis started the final period on the power play, Tampa Bay killed off the opportunity before Ward scored to re-gain the Lightning lead.
Following a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Filip Kuba fired a shot on goal from the point. As the puck deflected behind the net, Mathieu Darche centered a pass to Ward in the slot. Firing the puck from the right hash marks, Ward beat Legace over the shoulder at 4:25 of the period for his sixth goal.
Less than three minutes later MacDonald scored to give the Lightning a two-goal cushion. Creating a screen and forcing a deflection, MacDonald got a piece of a backhanded shot by Ranger to put the puck through the five hole.
With the goal, MacDonald connected for the third time in six games. The Lightning center has recorded points in five of his previous six games, including two assists.
Lightning winger Mathieu Darche celebrates after assisting on a goal by teammate Jason Ward against the St. Louis Blues in the third period on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Following up on the goal, Tampa Bay built a 5-2 lead with 5:05 left in the game when Tarnasky scored for the fifth time this season. On a quick passing play between Lecavalier got Martin St. Louis the puck as he skated towards the back of the net. Martin St. Louis passed the puck back to Tarnasky who crashed towards the net before firing a one-timed slap shot to the left of Legace.
The Blues added a pair of goals late in the game, including Jamal Mayers’ eighth goal of the season nine seconds after Tarnasky’s score. Although David Perron brought his team within one with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, the Lightning held off the Blues for the win.
Beginning a three-game road trip, Tampa Bay recorded their fifth consecutive road victory dating back to a January 8, 2008 win against the New York Rangers. During the stretch the Lightning have out-scored their opponents 20-10, including consecutive shutouts against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.
With 21 saves Holmqvist recorded his fourth consecutive win on the road. The Lightning netminder has won five of his previous seven starts.
Stopping 19 of 24 shots in the contest, Legace remained winless in his career against the Lightning. The Blues goalie has failed to post a win through five career starts against Tampa Bay.
Both teams connected once on the power play, with the Lightning converting their only man-advantage opportunity of the night.
With two helpers in the game, Martin St. Louis pulled into a tie with Detroit defenseman Niklas Lidstrom for fourth in the NHL with 45 assists. Martin St. Louis sits two assists short of league-leaders Pavel Datsyuk, also of Detroit, and San Jose’s Joe Thornton.
Tampa Bay continues their road swing on Thursday, February 7 (8:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) when they face off against the Nashville Predators. The game marks the lone meeting between the clubs this season.
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
Martin St. Louis
2 - 1 TBL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 TBL
4 - 2 TBL
Martin St. Louis
5 - 2 TBL
5 - 3 TBL