On a night dedicated to honoring Martin St. Louis reaching the coveted 1,000 game milestone, and with injured forward Steven Stamkos walking without any assistance onto the red carpet to a deafening roar from the sold out Tampa Bay Times Forum crowd, the Tampa Bay Lightning had plenty of motivation heading into Monday night’s game with the New York Rangers.
St. Louis made certain that didn’t fall on deaf ears , further cementing why he’s referred to as the Lightning’s heart and soul by scoring two goals in a commanding 5-0 win. Counting tonight’s performance, he now has 350 goals in his long, illustrious career. Quite an accomplishment for a guy who went undrafted, was cut from his first team and told numerous times he’d never make it in the NHL.
Netminder Ben Bishop also continued his great season, with 37 saves, many of which were highlight-reel worthy. With this performance, he’s ranked second in the league for both wins (14) and shutouts (2). Crazy when you think of the Lightning’s recent goaltending woes.
For Lightning fans, this day is one they’ll never soon forget. Nor do they want to. It began early, when Stamkos walked (yes, WALKED!) unassisted into his first meeting with the local media two weeks after breaking his right tibia against the Boston Bruins. A moment that brought tears of happiness to some eyes. That provided a perfect segway into St. Louis’ beautiful ceremony, and an incredibly memorable night all around.
As great as this win was, however, the Lightning face an even tougher challenge when former captain Vincent Lecavalier returns home for the first time in Philadelphia Flyers colors Wednesday night.
Can the Lightning find a way to stop Vinny and the Flyers, or will this be their lone Thanksgiving week win? Unknown at this time, Tampa Bay sure hopes Monday’s performance catapults them into an extended winning streak. One they hope to ride for awhile.