NEWARK, N.J. — Marty St. Louis thought for a moment before describing as "swagger" that little extra something in his game.
On second thought, he said, "I guess I shouldn't call it that. That's too arrogant."
But the Lightning left wing couldn't come up with a suitable alternative and finally said, "I just take it personal. Even when I know I'm playing well, I'm trying to find answers in my game."
The way he's going, he should sign up for a game show.
St. Louis has four goals and nine assists in a nine-game point streak that is the league's longest active. And without much notice, he has moved to third in the league with 75 points on 24 goals and 51 assists.
St. Louis is three points behind linemate Steve Stamkos for the team lead and was four behind Vancouver's Daniel Sedin for the league lead entering Tuesday.
And how about this: His 54 blocked shots entered Tuesday 13th in the league among forwards.
"He's just getting older," Stamkos said. "He can't get out of the way as quick."
Stamkos was joking, but he raised a legitimate question. How can a 35-year-old player get stronger as a year goes on and, as coach Guy Boucher noted, play his best hockey of the season?
"He feels the last stretch coming," Boucher said. "He hasn't been in a (playoff) series in three years. He hasn't won a series in six years, and he's tasted what it is to win. He smells the beast now. That's what's happening."
Consider Sunday's 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
Vinny Lecavalier's booming one-timer provided the third-period winner. But St. Louis had a goal and an assist, two blocked shots and a team-high 22:48 of ice time, 1:45 more than his average 21:03, which is fourth among league wings.
And do not forget his 452 consecutive games played, the league's fourth-longest active streak.
"He's a machine," Lecavalier said. "He's skating like he's 22. He's not just scoring points. He's blocking shots. He's backchecking. It's hard work, and everybody looks up to him for that."
"He'll be there every night," defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron said. "He's making big plays. He's the kind of guy everyone would like to have on his team."
Still, St. Louis acknowledged a recent stretch when he didn't have that, oh, what should we call it?
In 14 games from Jan. 18 through Feb. 19, St. Louis had one goal. He had 13 assists but couldn't get on the scoreboard.
In his past three games, though, St. Louis has four goals, and — coincidentally? — Tampa Bay takes a three-game winning streak into tonight's game with the Devils at the Prudential Center.
"One thing I did was I still played the game," St. Louis said. "I feel I'm trying to make the best play I can, whether it's a shot or a pass."
St. Louis is on pace for 32 goals, which would be his most since 2006-07, and 68 assists, which would be a personal best.
"It's always gratifying to have a good season," he said. "You put so much time and work into it. I take pride in doing well."
And having that swagger.