On November 19, the Lightning played one of the marque games of the night when captain Martin St. Louis took to the ice in the 1,000th game of his career. The 10:30 ET puck drop and 2-5 loss to the Kings rained on that parade; however, the attention of the entire NHL was zeroed in on the Sunshine State almost a week later.
After a four-game road trip in which the team picked up a meagre one point, the Bolts returned to Tampa to a warm homecoming and a beautiful video tribute to St. Louis. He quickly gave the crowd this highlight-reel goal worthy of the big night:
St. Louis earned the first star of the game when he ended the night with three points. During the month following the November 25 celebration, the Lightning went on a 9-3-2 tear, climbing to second in the Atlantic Division, with one game on hand over the Habs, who are two points behind them in the division. And while contributions came from a recently rejuvenated – and productive – Valtteri Filppula and Vezina-worthy goaltending by Ben Bishop, the team has their captain to thank for the Ws.
Dominating Performances Following the 1,000th Game
Still without alternate captain and then-lead scorer Steven Stamkos due to a broken right tibia, the Lightning continue to light the lamp anyways, outscoring their opponents by 13 goals. This is in a large part due to their captain. St. Louis has established himself as both the leader of the team and on the score sheet, with 37 points in 37 games played. That’s almost ten points over the next closest Lightning player, Filppula. St. Louis is also a plus nine thus far on the season, his best plus-minus rating since the 2003-2004 season.
Following the 1,000th game celebration, St. Louis had another dominating performance on December 5, when he opened up the scoring with a wrist shot against Ottawa Senators goaltender Robin Lehner.
He kept the Lightning ahead after the Senators tied up the score in the second period, again with a wrist shot while skating in front of the net. The win against Ottawa snapped a two-game losing streak.
On December 10, St. Louis put up another multi-point night when the Bolts faced off against the Washington Capitals. Once again he opened the scoring. A little over two minutes into the game, he carried the puck between the face-off circles and blasted a snap shot pass Braden Holtby.
While the Lightning dropped that decision after a shootout, his efforts were rewarded with a third star nomination.
A Night to Remember
Playing in hostile territory, the Lightning battled against a surging Panthers team on December 23. With the intra-state and inaugural Governor’s Cup on the line, the Bolts had what seemed to be a challenge on their hands, especially following the first goal of the night, a snap shot from Cats forward Sean Bergenheim.
That, however, would be the last time the Panthers found the back of the net, as the Lightning scored six unanswered goals. The night ended with the Bolts winning their fifth straight decision.
During the game, in which St. Louis scored one goal and had two assists, he first tied, then exceeded the great defenseman Chris Chelios for points all-time in the NHL. Now with 949 career points, Martin St Louis sits in the 90th spot on the list. Leading all Tampa Bay forwards in ice time at 20:27 minutes, St. Louis also recorded five shots on goal and two takeaways.
Following the game, coach Jon Cooper had this to say about Marty’s performance:
A month after his 1,000th game celebration, St. Louis continues to prove himself worthy of the “C” on his sweater.
Michelle Timian fell in love with hockey after watching a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 and has been following hockey ever since. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in Creative Writing and is more comfortable in front of a keyboard than on skates. She also blogs for the New York Rangers at blueshirtsunited.com.