|CAR||0||2||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|TBL||0||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
Martin St. Louis finished off what he started just 56 minutes earlier.
St. Louis capped a two-goal night with the game-winner just 30 seconds into overtime and Antero Niittymaki made 27 saves as the Lightning ended a five-game winless streak with a 3-2 victory over division rival Carolina on Tuesday.
After opening the contest with his 25th goal of the season just over four minutes in, St. Louis moved into the Hurricanes’ zone from center ice before making a backhand pass to himself, while slipping between a Carolina defenseman in the slot and roofing a shot above the blocker of net minder Manny Legace.
“You’re trying to help your team win, you’re trying to go in and score every night and you’re just trying to play the game,” St. Louis said. “Sometimes it’s you who gets the chances, sometimes it’s other guys, sometimes you’re in set-up mode, and that’s fine with me. It was a big win, just to start feeling good about ourselves.”
Legace stopped 26 of 29 shots, including a game-high 11 in the third period alone, but gave credit to the Lightning veteran despite a dejected mood after the game.
“It was a great move. Guys like that, you’ve just got watch them,” Legace said. He’s one of those special players and has the ability to do special things like that. The next thing is that we’ll be watching that one on Sportscenter.”
Steve Downie also added a goal for the Lightning, becoming just the fourth player in the last 13 seasons to record 20 or more goals while also amassing over 200 penalty minutes in a season, joining Chris Gratton, Keith Tkachuk and Theo Fleury.
Tampa Bay won for just the third time in its last 15 games, while Carolina lost for the first time on the road since Mar. 10 and moved to 16-8-1 in its last 25 games.
“We played hard,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “For the most part I think we did a pretty decent job on some explosive players. At the end of the day, it comes down to a one-on-one play, and it was made.”
Carolina erased a 1-0 deficit with a pair of goals towards the end of the second period sparked by Erik Cole’s 9th of the season that spoiled Niittymaki’s shutout bid at 1:01.
Niittymaki, however, held strong through the final 20 minutes by deflecting nine shots in the third period to not allow more than two goals in a game for the 13th time in his last 18 starts.
St. Louis broke a scoreless deadlock at 4:12 in the second period when he tapped in a pass from Teddy Purcell from the lower half of the left circle to give Tampa Bay an opening-goal advantage.
“Marty plays hard every night,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “He had a heck of a game tonight, I’ll tell you that.”
Cole evened the score with one minute remaining in the same period before Chad LaRose gave Carolina its first lead of the game just 18 seconds later to take a 2-1 advantage into the final frame.
“We were up 1-0 and then we just implode in the last minute before the third period,” Tocchet added. “We just made mistakes that you just can’t make.”
Carolina’s Ray Whitney was victimized by Tocchet’s sentiment at 11:45 when he was sent off for a slashing call, which set up Tampa Bay’s come-from-behind effort.
The Lightning made it 2-2 on the power play at 13:03 with a tip-in from the high slot. Steven Stamkos spotted Downie in between two defenders and shuttled a pass from the left circle onto Downie’s stick as he skated through and redirected the puck into the net past Legace.
“That was a big power play goal,” Tocchet said. “You just bounce back like that.”
St. Louis’ goal just a half a minute into the extra period earned Tampa Bay its 70th point, eight behind Boston with nine games remaining.
“That goal was highlight reel. That’s an ESPN or TSN goal. It was a heck of a goal by a great player,” Tocchet said.
|Martin St. Louis (25) ASST: Teddy Purcell (9), Vincent Lecavalier (43)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Erik Cole (9) ASST: Sergei Samsonov (14), Brian Pothier (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Chad LaRose (7) ASST: Joni Pitkanen (39), Ray Whitney (33)|
2 - 1 CAR
|PPG - Steve Downie (20) ASST: Steven Stamkos (41), Kurtis Foster (27)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Martin St. Louis (26) ASST: Andrej Meszaros (8), Mike Lundin (5)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Sergei Samsonov Too many men/ice - bench|
|Jay Harrison Fighting (maj) against Zenon Konopka|
|Zenon Konopka Fighting (maj) against Jay Harrison|
|Eric Staal Tripping against Mike Lundin|
|Ray Whitney Slashing against Steve Downie|
|SA: 27||TOI: 60:29|
|Saves: 24||EV: 20 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 5|
|SV%: .889||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 29||TOI: 60:29|
|Saves: 27||EV: 26 - 28|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: .931||SH: 1 - 1|