As coach Jon Cooper said, “Brett Connolly clearly isn’t here because of his point production in the minors.” In fact Connoly had not scored this season either with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League or in his brief minutes with the Lightning but tonight he got the monkey off his back and put away the game winner 8:37 seconds into the 3rd period. His goal put the Lightning ahead 3-2 and Valterri Filppula cemented the victory with his wraparound goal with just 3:59 seconds remaining to give the Lightning a 4-2 victory.
The victory improves the Lightnings record to 10-4-0 and hands the St. Louis Blues only their second loss of the season as they fall to 8-2-2. The Lightnings record against the Western Conference improves to 5-0-0 with victories against the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, and a pair of victories over the Chicago Black Hawks.
Tonight’s victory over the St. Louis Blues, an upper echelon team, was a sign of progress. Lighting coach Jon Cooper said, “I thought we earned the victory against an extremely good opponent. They pushed us and we pushed back and we ended up getting a couple extra breaks – but I think we earned our breaks. That’s the progress because we’re playing an elite team and I think we more than hung with them.”
Cooper felt that tonight may have been the teams most complete game of the year. “I thought we were really good in the penalty kill, I thought our power play could have scored on every one, the goalie played outstanding. Five on five we did the job. We won some face offs tonight which have kind of been an Achilles heel for us. I didn’t feel we got hemmed in our zone at all until they pulled the goalie at the end.”
Of beating upper echelon teams Steve Stamkos said “anytime you face a challenge you want to conquer it so it’s like I said before, anytime we play a team that’s known to be very good in this league we come out we come out with a great effort and we have to do that consistently and we’re starting to do that.” Like his coach Stamkos also says “great effort and may have been our most complete game of the year.”
Of his team Stamkos says they aren’t satisfied. “We’re happy with the way we’re playing – it’s that relaxed confident attitude but at the same time we’re not satisfied because we know it’s a long season.”
The two teams traded goals in the first period with the Blues Alex Pietrangelo notching his fourth goal of the season at the 7:36 mark but the Lightning’s Alex Killorn scored his fourth goal on the season to tie the score at the 10:44 mark.
Again in the second period the two team would trade goals this time the Lightning scored first as Steven Stamkos got his 11th goal on the season at the 1:43 mark but shortly after the Blues Jaden Schwartz delivered his third goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2 at the 3:45 mark.
Both teams were coming off playing on the road last night but the Lightning seem to have the extra power in their skates as they kept pressuring the Blues until they finally broke through on Connoly’s game winner at the 8:37 mark and Filppula goal at the 16:01 mark.
Once again the Lightning got tremendous play out of goalie Ben Bishop who recorded 28 saves in 30 shots in picking up his ninth win on the season. About beating the upper echelon competition Bishop says, “we want to be in the same category as those guys – that’s what we want. Whenever you play against the best teams in the league you want to win.”
In order to beat these good teams the Lightning have been able to rise to the occasion, Bishop says, “I think we definitely play to the level of the other teams, sometimes in a bad way, sometimes in a good way. That’s a good team over there and to take it to them, to keep going in the third period and take over…it’s a little of a measuring stick for our team because they were 8-1.”
Alex Killorn‘s Goal:
Steven Stamkos‘ Goal:
Brett Connolly’s Goal:
Valtteri Filppula‘s Goal: