St. Louis, Malone, Lecavalier Have Multi-Point Game
Two minutes into the contest, Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros knocked down a shot by Anaheim forward Drew Miller before it could find the empty Tampa Bay net, and that seemed to be a harbinger of things to come for the Lightning, as they defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 4-3, at the Honda Center Friday night.
Just a day before, interim coach Rick Tocchet challenged the Lightning to pick up the pace and the Bolts responded against the Ducks, but it wasn’t easy as Anaheim overcame a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the second period before Ryan Malone connected on his second score of the night to provide the margin of victory.
The Lightning got on the scoreboard first when, with Ryan Craig in the penalty box for tripping, Martin St. Louis zipped through the neutral zone, cut around Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger and lifted the puck over Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller for a short-handed goal. Vincent Lecavalier picked up an assist on the St. Louis goal, his 16th of the season.
The score was the second short-handed goal of the season for Tampa Bay and St. Louis has produced both of them. The goal marked the eighth time in the last nine games that the Lightning have scored first.
While the first period ended with only one goal scored by either team, period two would, by contrast, be a goal bonanza and would see the Ducks battle back to tie the score before the stanza ended.
The scoring began at 1:41 when Lecavalier gained the blueline, cut across the middle of the Anaheim zone and passed to Vaclav Prospal, standing alone at the side of the net. Prospal one-timed the puck past Hiller for his ninth goal of the season. In addition to Lecavalier, Evengy Artyukhin also got credit for an assist and Tampa Bay led 2-0.
The Ducks went on the power play when Matt Smaby was whistled for tripping and they made the man advantage count at 8:42. Karri Ramo, making his first start of the season in the NHL, stopped two shots from close-in before the puck dribbled far enough behind him for Andrew Ebbet to tap into the net.
Once the score was 2-1, Anaheim gained momentum and surged for most of the remainder of the period. Ramo had to make big saves on several occasions, notably robbing Ryan Getzlaf from point-blank range at the mid-point of the stanza.
When Pronger was sent off for cross-checking at 17:40, the Lightning struck just 11 seconds into the man-advantage when Ryan Malone drove across the goal mouth and beat Hiller with a shot that found the far right corner of the Anaheim net. The goal, Malone’s 11th of the season, was assisted by St. Louis and Meszaros and re-opened the Lightning lead to two goals, 3-1.
But as quick as the Lightning re-opened the two-goal lead, the Ducks stepped up to close it again, just 37 seconds later, when defenseman Steve Montador’s shot beat Ramo to the short side.
Just 12 seconds after Montador scored, the Ducks tied the game at 3-3 when Pronger snuck into the slot between the faceoff circles and ripped a shot that flew past Ramo’s glove.
By the time the scoring binge had subsided and the second period drew to a close, three goals had been scored in just 49 seconds, two by Anaheim defensemen.
The third period provided both teams several chances to take the lead, but, thanks to some good goaltending on both ends of the rink, the score remained tied through the first half of the period.
Lightning forward Matt Pettinger and Getzlaf culminated a chippy relationship at 5:43 when they finally dropped the gloves and went at each other for a few swings. Both players received a five-minute major fighting penalty for their efforts, but the battle may have meant more to Tampa Bay.
“The fight was the best play of the third period,” St. Louis commented. “We really rallied behind that. It was a gutsy play by Pettinger.”
Just past the mid-point of the period, Malone broke the tie with his second goal of the game and 12th of the season when he banged in a rebound of a shot by Jeff Halpern. The play was set up by St. Louis, dodging Anaheim defenders to feather a pass to Halpern.
The Malone goal gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead, which they made stand up through the remainder of the game.
Malone may have ended the game with two goals, but St. Louis provided the spark that cranked the Lightning motor all night, ending the game with one goal and two assists. St. Louis now has 13 points in the last seven games.
“The guys showed some of the character and will to win,” Tocchet said. “Guys were playing a bend-not-break defense in the third.”
Tampa Bay will look to bend-not-break some more, as they continue their five game road trip Monday night in Los Angeles. A win against the Kings, or the next night in San Jose, would insure they return to Tampa with a winning record for the trip.
Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL