When you're a rookie NHL defenseman, you do what the reigning MVP tells you.
St. Louis took Ranger's long pass in open ice and scored a short-handed breakaway goal with 4:57 left to lift the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-1 victory Monday night over the New York Islanders.
"I looked up and he's yelling at me so I said, 'OK' and passed it to him," Ranger said.
That spoiled a brilliant goaltending performance by New York backup Garth Snow and gave the Lightning just their second win in eight games, and third in 10.
With Tampa Bay's Nolan Pratt in the penalty box, St. Louis took the pass at the Islanders blue line and turned into the zone. His shot eluded the glove of Snow, who made 41 saves.
"That's Marty St. Louis, that's what he does," Ranger said.
Snow got the rare start because Rick DiPietro, a U.S. Olympic goalie, is nursing a left knee injury. Snow was outdueled by Sean Burke, who stopped 35 shots in his second straight start over slumping regular John Grahame - another U.S. Olympian.
"From our goaltending right on out, I thought we played well, I thought we played hard, I thought we created a lot of offense but you're still in the situation where you're not putting that puck in the net when you have those chances," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "The 20 minutes in the third period was very important in just finding a way."
New York has lost five straight and six of seven.
"Every team goes through things like this," Snow said. "We know we can turn it around."
Vincent Lecavalier gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with a penalty-shot goal in the first period. Islanders rookie Jeff Hamilton tied it in the second.
Hamilton, recalled earlier Monday from Bridgeport of the AHL after a one-game banishment, netted his second NHL goal with 1:09 left in the second period.
Earlier in the period, the Islanders showed a new level of futility. They had the puck in the Lightning zone during a power play, and caught two Tampa Bay players without sticks. A shot struck Burke, and every Lightning player dived onto the puck in front.
Snow was the sole reason the Islanders were tied heading into the third period. He endured multiple short-handed situations and countless odd-man rushes - including several breakaways. He turned them all aside, even Lecavalier's 1-on-1 rush that led to the penalty shot.
New York took five penalties in the first period and were short-handed for 7:26. Snow flopped on his back to deny Vaclav Prospal in the opening minute, stopped Lecavalier on a stuff attempt off a 2-on-1 break, and kicked out another drive by Prospal.
Lecavalier finally figured Snow out by beating him with a move that didn't work just seconds earlier. On the penalty shot, Lecavalier drifted left on his forehand before cutting to the right and lifting a backhander over Snow's glove and under the crossbar with 6:42 left in the opening period.
Lecavalier's 16th goal was his first in four career penalty shots. His 1-on-1 struggles go back way further than that. He said he had never scored on a penalty shot.
"I had my first one when I was 6 or 7," said Lecavalier, now 25. "I hit the post and I never scored again. I think I was 0-for-12 or something."
The Lightning had missed 15 straight penalty shots, dating to Rob Zamuner's goal against the Islanders on Jan. 11, 1997. That was also the last one surrendered by New York.
Tampa Bay carried a 1-0 lead into the second period after tying a season high with 19 shots. The Lightning posted 17 more in the middle frame.
Burke also flashed periods of brilliance. He denied a breakaway by Miroslav Satan in the second period and used his stick to stop three in-close whacks late in the third.
"We missed the net a lot," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. "A lot more than I'd like to admit."
Notes: Ruslan Fedotenko failed in Tampa Bay's only other penalty shot this season, Oct. 20 at Atlanta. ... Wade Dubielewicz was recalled from Bridgeport to serve as Snow's backup. ... The Lightning had a 19-shot third period on Nov. 3 at Ottawa. ... New York killed off all eight short-handed situations, snapping an 11-game streak of allowing power-play goals. ... Tampa Bay forwards Fredrik Modin (lower body) and Rob DiMaio (lower back) were injured in the second period and didn't return.
|PS - Vincent Lecavalier (16) Backhand shot - ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 TBL
|PPG - Jeff Hamilton (2) Slapshot - ASST: Jason Blake (14), Mike York (21)|
1 - 1 Tie
|SHG - Martin St. Louis (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Paul Ranger (8)|
2 - 1 TBL
|Brent Sopel Hooking|
|Dave Andreychuk Hooking|
|Mike York Hi-sticking|
|Mattias Weinhandl Tripping|
|Brent Sopel Tripping|
|Rob DiMaio Slashing|
|Alexei Zhitnik Hooking|
|Dimitri Afanasenkov Hooking|
|Oleg Kvasha Hooking|
|Ruslan Fedotenko Hooking|
|Pavel Kubina Holding|
|Dan Boyle Hooking|
|Alexei Yashin Hooking|
|Shawn Bates Tripping|
|Nolan Pratt Holding|
|Vinny Prospal Hooking|