After six straight losses, there were smiles all around in the Tampa Bay Lightning's locker room Friday night.Steven Stamkos also scored two goals, Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay each recorded two assists and Kurtis Foster also scored for TampaBay, which had been 1-8-2 in its last 11 games and 0-3-1 in the first four games of a six-game trip. Antero Niittymaki stopped 23 shots.
"It gives us a little bit of enjoyment," Halpern said after the Lightning's biggest offensive night of the season. "There's no real explanation for how we went from a team that was doing pretty well and was right in the thick of things to just falling off the face of the earth. It's a step in the right direction."
Lecavalier said he had no idea he was so close to a milestone.
"I didn't know, so yeah, it's great," said Lecavalier, who has 310 goals and 390 assists in 11 NHL seasons. "Hopefully, there are many, many more. It's exciting."
Brad Winchester, T.J. Oshie and Keith Tkachuk all scored for the Blues, who fell to 6-11-2 at the ScottradeCenter. Their 14 points at home are the fewest in the NHL -- so their upcoming four-game trip might not be such a bad thing.
"I would almost call this loss tonight dumb," said coach Andy Murray, who kept his team in the locker room for a lengthy period after the game. "It was a dumb loss. The goals we gave up ... to me, the game against Edmonton (Dec. 11) in the third period, in our own building, we got pushed around. Tonight, we just played dumb.
"I'm responsible here. I'm the head coach, and it doesn't sit well with me. We've got to talk about what we can do better as coaches as well," he added.
Winchester scored his first of the season to give the Blues a 1-0 lead, beating Niittymaki with a snap shot from the low slot 10:04 into the game. But St. Louis tied it for Tampa Bay 33 seconds later on the Lightning's first shot of the game. Stamkos' 19th of the season 36 seconds into the second, a one-timer from the left circle, made it 2-1.
Foster made it 3-1 at 6:24 on a slap shot from the right point that got through a screen, giving TampaBay three goals on its first nine shots against Chris Mason.
Oshie cut the lead to 3-2 just 3:58 into the third, but Halpern reinstated Tampa Bay's two-goal lead just 14 seconds later, taking a pass from Lecavalier following a turnover by the Blues' Brad Boyes and beating Mason.
"The one thing that was really positive was we answered when they got back in it and we answered again," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "Tonight, the Blues made a push. They scored and we answered that's a good sign for us."
Mason called it bad luck for the Blues.
"It just seemed like every time we got back in the game, they come back and score," said Mason, who stopped 18 shots. "For me personally, I've got to make saves at crucial times for our team. Tonight, I didn't really do that."
Tkachuk's power-play goal 9:03 into the third cut the Lightning lead to 4-3, but Halpern got his second of the game with 8:45 to play off a feed from Malone, and Stamkos added an empty-netter with 58 seconds to play.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|PPG - Brad Winchester (1) ASST: David Backes (9), Paul Kariya (8)|
1 - 0 STL
|Martin St. Louis (7) ASST: Alex Tanguay (14), Vincent Lecavalier (22)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Steven Stamkos (19) ASST: Kurtis Foster (5), Martin St. Louis (30)|
2 - 1 TBL
|Kurtis Foster (5) ASST: Victor Hedman (8), Ryan Malone (13)|
3 - 1 TBL
|T.J. Oshie (7) ASST: Paul Kariya (9), Darryl Sydor (5)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Jeff Halpern (6) ASST: Vincent Lecavalier (23), Alex Tanguay (15)|
4 - 2 TBL
|PPG - Keith Tkachuk (7) ASST: Brad Boyes (13), Andy McDonald (11)|
4 - 3 TBL
|Jeff Halpern (7) ASST: Ryan Malone (14)|
5 - 3 TBL
|EN - Steven Stamkos (20) ASST: Martin St. Louis (31)|
6 - 3 TBL
|Mattias Ohlund Interference against B.J. Crombeen|
|Jeff Halpern Hooking against David Backes|
|Cam Janssen Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Vincent Lecavalier Elbowing against David Backes|
|Carlo Colaiacovo Tripping against Steven Stamkos|
|Vincent Lecavalier Roughing against David Backes|
|Stephane Veilleux Holding against Erik Johnson|
|Erik Johnson Holding against Stephane Veilleux|
|Cam Janssen Holding against Todd Fedoruk|
|Carlo Colaiacovo Fighting (maj) against Blair Jones|
|Blair Jones Fighting (maj) against Carlo Colaiacovo|
|Carlo Colaiacovo Instigator against Blair Jones|
|Carlo Colaiacovo Misconduct (10 min) against Blair Jones|
|Martin St. Louis Roughing against Paul Kariya|
|Alex Tanguay Tripping against Erik Johnson|