St. Louis nets overtime winner as Lighting edge ThrashersNov 25, 2006 - 3:49 AM
The right wing netted his fourth game-winning goal of the season to lift the Lightning to a 3-2 overtime triumph over the Thrashers.
St. Louis scored the decisive goal when he picked up a loose puck behind the Atlanta net, darted out in front and snapped a shot over goaltender Kari Lehtonen's shoulder at 2:25 of overtime.
The league's Most Valuable Player in 2003-2004, St. Louis has 14 goals this season.
"You always try to build on any little thing," St. Louis said. "I think we tried to build off of our last game in Fort Lauderdale (a 6-4 win on Wednesday over Florida) and I thought tonight that we grinded it well, and kept with it. It's a mighty huge win the way things played out."
Tampa Bay trailed Florida, 3-2, after two periods on Wednesday, but scored four third-period goals to win, 6-4.
"This is our second straight game when we've come back, and I believe that says something about the direction of the team and the attitude we have right now," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "We are creating opportunities for ourselves and making things happen."
Trailing, 2-1, the Lightning tied the game with 21 seconds left in the third period when defenseman Dan Boyle scored with a lot of luck.
Boyle's shot from the point deflected off an Atlanta forward's skate and then glanced off Thrashers defenseman Andy Sutton's shoulder past Lehtonen.
"Lately, it doesn't seem like I've been getting the bounces, but tonight the last goal went off two guys and it was a big win for the team," said Boyle, who has four goals this season. "When you work hard and play hard, the bounces will eventually go your way."
"I saw it when it went past me," said Lehtonen. "It was a lucky bounce. I guess the guy upstairs just wanted it to go in. Everybody saw on the replay that the puck was going into the corner and then it hit Sutton. But things like that happen in hockey, it's just a bad time for us and that gave them two points and one for us."
Earlier, Boyle sliced Atlanta's lead to 2-1 at 8:43 of the second period when he beat Lehtonen from a sharp angle.
Jason Krog and Steve Rucchin scored for the Thrashers, who have lost four of their last five games.
Despite the loss, Lehtonen was pleased with his 20-save performance.
"It was good to finally have a solid game, and that made me really happy," said Lehtonen, who gave up three goals on seven shots in a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on November 17. "I just wanted to go out there and battle, and I have to keep working. It's one of those things you would like to have back."
Atlanta coach Bob Hartley, whose club hosts the Florida Panthers on Saturday, thought his club was a victim of bad misfortune.
"We played a great game," Hartley said. "Two letdowns or two mental mistakes and obviously it's a game of mistakes. Both mental mistakes led to their last two goals and they came away with the win. We played such a strong game. It's a tough one to swallow, but that's the way it goes."
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