Tampa, FL (Sports Network) – Martin St. Louis’ looping move resulted in the only goal of the shootout, which lifted the Lightning to a 4-3 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.
St. Louis was the fifth shooter to go and approached the net from the right side of the ice. As he skated closer, he cradled the puck with his blade and made a wide, counter-clockwise turn. St. Louis’ left shoulder faced the net at the end of his rotation, and he quickly shifted to his backhand to shoot the puck past Corey Crawford.
Officials upheld the goal after a brief delay, and Dwayne Roloson stopped Marian Hossa to secure the victory.
“You’re allowed to stop as long as the puck kind of keeps moving a little bit,” St. Louis said. “You can’t stop and come back.”
St. Louis and Steven Stamkos both had a goal and an assist during regulation for the Lightning, who snapped a four-game slide and kept pace with Washington in the Southeast Division race. Tampa Bay is still two points (86-84) behind the Capitals, who beat Edmonton earlier Wednesday.
Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks, who have dropped two in a row, but gained a point on Detroit in the Central Division race. The Red Wings lost to Los Angeles on Wednesday, trimming their points lead over Chicago to 86-81.
“Everybody knows points are at a premium here,” said Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith. “In the Western Conference, it’s a logjam. You’re fighting for your life every night.”
Roloson finished with 28 saves, while Crawford had 27, and both netminders survived close calls in overtime.
The Lightning had a good chance to end the game after Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson was whistled for a delay-of-game penalty with 57 seconds left in regulation.
The Blackhawks prevented Tampa Bay from scoring in the final moments of the third period. But they faced a stern challenge during the extra period, when the slick-skating and creative Lightning had extra space during the 4-on-3.
Though Tampa Bay pressured throughout the man advantage, its best chance came toward the end, when two Chicago players shifted to the right side of the ice to fight for the puck. The Blackhawks couldn’t clear, leaving only Brent Seabrook near the net.
St. Louis jumped at the opportunity and skated to the slot to shoot. The puck jumped off Seabrook’s stick and over Crawford, but it hit the crossbar and started spinning in the air before Crawford grabbed it with his glove.
Back at even strength, Chicago looked to create scoring chances for itself. The Blackhawks got one when Bryan Bickell got behind the Lightning defense for a breakaway opportunity.
But Roloson stuffed his short wrister with 1:42 left, helping to send the game to a shootout.
Stamkos opened the scoring 11:07 into the game, and a high-speed, end-to-end pace helped ratchet up the score later in the opening period.
With 3:17 remaining, a screened Roloson was unable to make the stick save on Patrick Kane’s snap shot from the slot.
But the Lightning got that goal back with 15.6 seconds to go thanks to an opportunistic St. Louis. He grabbed a loose puck in the slot, moved into the left circle, and beat Crawford to the glove side.
Tampa Bay grabbed a 3-1 lead at the 1:20 mark of the second period, when Teddy Purcell’s backhander from the left circle deflected in.
However, Patrick Sharp wristed in a rebound a little more than eight minutes later, and Toews scored 3:30 into the third to pull Chicago even.
Tampa Bay snapped a three-game losing streak against Chicago. The Lightning hadn’t beaten the Blackhawks since December 2, 2005, in a shootout…The Blackhawks close their four-game road trip Sunday in Washington.