TAMPA — Marty St. Louis is not one to take a personal scoring drought lightly, especially when his team is begging for goals and even more desperate for wins.
"Every game I take it upon myself," he said. "I don't let myself off the hook. I have to bury my chances when the team needs it."
Boy, did the Lightning need it, and, man, did St. Louis come through.
His two goals were his first in eight games. His second, at the end of a dazzling end-to-end rush 29 seconds into overtime, gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"Oh, my God, what a play," right wing Steve Downie said. "It was an awesome play, unbelievable."
"It's highlight reel," coach Rick Tocchet said. "That's an ESPN goal. That's a faceoff from our own end all the way down. It was a hell of a goal by a great player."
And a relief for the Lightning (29-32-12), which broke a five-game losing streak in which it had just seven goals, and a four-game streak at home. Tampa Bay remained eight points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East with nine games left.
Even so, St. Louis said, "It's big. We win a game. We haven't done that in a while. It's a tough go, coming to work when you're in the slide that we were. Now, we win a game, the guys feel good about themselves."
Downie was in on that after his power-play deflection of Stamkos' shot tied the score at 2 with 6:57 left in the third period and made the right wing the first player since Theo Fleury in 2001-02 with 20 goals and 200 penalty minutes in a season.
There were bad moments as goals in 18 seconds by Erik Cole and Chad LaRose gave Carolina a 2-1 lead with 42.1 seconds left in the second period.
But St. Louis' 26th goal made that old news.
"One of the nicer goals I've been able to see first hand," Stamkos said.
In fact, St. Louis said he intended to pass to Stamkos as the pair hit the Carolina blue line.
"It's a two-on-two," St. Louis said. "I'm trying to go to Stammer. Maybe Stammer can walk in and take a shot. As I got to Stammer I saw there was a hole and tried to take advantage of it."
St. Louis swept from left wing into the center of the ice, went to his backhand to stick-handle around befuddled Hurricanes defenseman Brett Carson and roofed a forehand off the crossbar and past goalie Manny Legace from in close.
"It was a great move," Legace said. "Guys like that, you've just got to watch them. … I was shocked he beat our defenseman and came right in. He's one of those special players and has the ability to do special things.
"The next thing is we'll be watching it on SportsCenter."
Second—1, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 25 (Purcell, Lecavalier), 4:12. 2, Carolina, Cole 9 (Samsonov, Pothier), 18:59. 3, Carolina, LaRose 7 (Pitkanen, Whitney), 19:17. Penalties—Carolina bench, served by Samsonov (too many men), 16:48; Harrison, Car, major (fighting), 19:08; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 19:08.
Third—4, Tampa Bay, Downie 20 (Stamkos, Foster), 13:03 (pp). Penalties—Staal, Car (tripping), 6:31; Whitney, Car (slashing), 11:45.
Overtime—5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 26 (Meszaros, Lundin), :29. Penalties—None. Shots—Carolina 10-10-9-0—29. Tampa Bay 8-7-11-1—27. Power plays—Carolina 0 of 0; Tampa Bay 1 of 3. Goalies—Carolina, Legace 9-6-4 (27 shots-24 saves). Tampa Bay, Niittymaki 19-16-5 (29-27). A—13,009 (19,758). T—2:21. Referees—Kerry Fraser, Chris Lee. Linesmen—Mark Pare, Brian Murphy.