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St. Louis leads Lightning past Rangers

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- If the Tampa Bay Lightning could find a way, they would be wise to honor Martin St. Louis before every game.

The Lightning forward received special recognition for appearing in his 1,000th NHL game before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Lighting and the New York Rangers on Monday night, and he paid his team back the best way he knew how.

St. Louis scored twice and had an assist, and Ben Bishop stopped all 37 shots he faced to lead the Lightning to a 5-0 win at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"Tonight was pretty emotional, seeing the whole presentation and seeing my kids, my wife, my parents," St. Louis said. "And then when they started the video, I couldn't watch. I kind of lost it. But, you have to play. Scoring a goal early helped everything else settle in. It was a special night and then to win the game and contribute, I don't know I kind of feel like myself tonight … like a flash from the past."

The win was No. 14 for Bishop and his second shutout of the season. It extended Bishop's career record against the Rangers to 4-0-0, including two shutouts.

"I wouldn't look too far into that," Bishop said. "I've only played a few games against them."

Bishop was much more impressed with the game St. Louis had than the shutout.

"Guys like that rise to the occasion," Bishop said of St. Louis. "Sure enough, he goes out and scores two goals after that ceremony. I expect nothing less from him."

Bishop's fifth career shutout may have been overshadowed, but he wasn't concerned in the least.

"He (St. Louis) worked a lot of years to get to this point, so one little shutout isn't going to mean anything," Bishop said.

The victory snapped a four-game winless streak for the Lightning, who extended their home record to 9-2-0, including six consecutive wins.

Teddy Purcell had two goals and an assist. He has seven goals this season.

The loss dropped the Rangers back to .500 (12-12-0). They've scored seven goals in the past six games.

St. Louis' second goal came at 3:12 of the second period, when Valtteri Filppula's outlet pass sent him between two Ranger defenders and in alone on goalie Henrik Lundqvist. St. Louis picked the upper right corner of the net to extend the Lightning's lead to 3-0.

Tampa Bay killed off 58 seconds of a 5-on-3 when Alex Killorn and B.J. Crombeen drew penalties less than a minute apart. In total, the Rangers had the man advantage six times during which they generated 12 shots. In the past 19 games, the Lightning have killed off 60 of their past 65 penalties.

Purcell found a loose puck in the neutral zone and eased down the right side of the Rangers zone before scoring on a wrist shot for his first of the game. The unassisted goal came with 3:08 remaining in the second period and sent the Lightning to intermission with a 4-0 lead.

Cam Talbot replaced Lundqvist at the beginning of the third period. Lundqvist finished with 18 saves on 22 shots.

"I didn't think we played that bad," Lundqvist said. "We made a few mistakes and they made us pay for it. Marty (St. Louis) had a great night. I think he is one of the best guys in the League on the breakaway. I just didn't play it like you need to play it when you face a tough guy like that."

Nikita Kucherov didn't waste much time making his presence felt in his first NHL game. It took 32 seconds to score his first goal on his first shot on his first shift at 2:12 of the first period, when he slipped away from a defender, took a pass from Purcell and blasted the puck from the right faceoff circle off Lundqvist's stick and into the net.

"I was just in the right spot at the right time and Teddy (Purcell) made a good pass to me, so I just needed to shoot the puck into the net," Kucherov said. "I didn't see the puck (go in the net), I just saw people with their hands up. I was so excited. I can't describe it."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was not surprised that Kucherov found the back of the net so quickly.

"First of all, he's not afraid to shoot the puck," Cooper said, "and you've got a good chance of scoring when you shoot. That will not be the last goal that kid will score in the NHL."

Less than a minute later, it was St. Louis' turn. Filppula's pass sent him in alone on the Rangers net and he flipped a shot over Lundqvist to make it 2-0 3:10 into the game.

"I was excited, and then I took a nice fall," St. Louis, who went flying after his score, said. "I was so excited to score. I don't know what happened. I've done that a few times, but it was kind of a hard landing this time."

Once the Lightning (15-8-1) had established a quick two-goal lead, the spotlight fell on Bishop. The Rangers outshot Tampa Bay 17-10 in the first period, and several of New York's shots were outstanding scoring opportunities, including a point-blank slap shot from Anton Stralman that Bishop snared with his glove.

"We were unable to make them pay, especially in the first period when they made some mistakes and we had quality chances," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.

Lightning forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury.

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