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Tampa Bay Lightning's Marty St. Louis progressing after face injury; Lightning offensive stars must step up

The Rangers’ Artem Anisimov says he meant no disrespect with this goal celebration vs. the Lightning, in which he used his stick like a gun and pretended to shoot at goalie Mathieu Garon.

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The Rangers’ Artem Anisimov says he meant no disrespect with this goal celebration vs. the Lightning, in which he used his stick like a gun and pretended to shoot at goalie Mathieu Garon.



PHILADELPHIA — The Lightning on Friday got some good news about injured star Marty St. Louis, whom it said was released from New York's NYU Medical Center and spent the night at his Connecticut home with wife Heather.

St. Louis, who sustained facial and nasal fractures at Thursday's morning skate when hit by a puck from an errant backhand by teammate Dominic Moore, was progressing, the team said, and was expected to fly to Tampa today.

Though St. Louis missed what would have been his 500th consecutive regular-season game, left wing Ryan Malone said he hoped the 3-2 shootout victory over the Rangers that stopped a five-game losing streak was solace for him.

"To have that milestone taken away, we wanted to make sure we went out and got it done," Malone said. "It was important for us to show Marty it meant something to us in the room."

Their priority is to keep the momentum. And with every nod to the concept of a team game and the luxury of secondary scoring, the Lightning needs its top offensive players — Malone, Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell — to produce.

"You can't replace a guy like Marty," Purcell said, "so everybody has to raise their game."

That lately has been a struggle.

Purcell has three assists in his past 14 games. Malone has one point (a goal) in his past six. Lecavalier has zero points in four games and one (an assist) in his past seven. Even Stamkos, who is tied for third in the league with 16 goals, hasn't scored in four games.

"The last eight or nine games, for sure, have been tough," Lecavalier said.

Said Purcell: "It's just that after a while without getting production, maybe you're holding your stick a little tighter. You're pressing a little bit more, and you're not as comfortable in those situations as you are when you're on a streak."

Coach Guy Boucher agreed that "we need more" from the group — especially against the surging Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center — but does not believe it should bear the entire burden.

"It's not the best players that win, it's the best team, so we have to be a better team," he said. "We will never be able to put on the ice what Marty gives us. That's the big mistake when you lose guys. You try to compensate for what they are. Instead of trying to find what Marty has, I'm trying to find parts of Marty. I don't want one guy. I want a team that figures out we need to do this or that and stick together."

That is why third-line center and puck hound Dominic Moore will get more opportunities in offensive situations, Boucher said, and speedy wing Tom Pyatt might keep seeing time on a line with Lecavalier and Purcell.

The experiments worked against the Rangers. Lecavalier said the game was the Lightning's "most complete. … Everybody stepped up their games two or three notches." But that doesn't let him, Stamkos, Purcell and Malone off the hook. "When you're missing a big piece like Marty, we have to make sure we keep going in the right direction," Lecavalier said. "We have to be sharp every game."

For the Lightning, that would be good news.

NOTES: Defenseman Pavel Kubina (lower body) is on injured reserve retroactive to Monday. He is eligible to play Monday against the Devils at the St. Pete Times Forum. "That's what I'm shooting for," said Kubina, who skated with the team wearing a red no-contact jersey. … Center Nate Thompson (upper body) was expected to play against the Flyers, Boucher said. … Right wing Adam Hall and defenseman Matt Gilroy did not skate for what the team said was body maintenance.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8622. View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.

.TONIGHT

Lightning at Flyers

When/where: 7; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: The Flyers, winners of four straight and nine of 12, are tied with the Panthers for most points in the Eastern Conference (37) and lead the league with 96 goals. … The Lightning road power play is on a 2 for 29 skid. … Philadelphia RW Claude Giroux has a league-best 37 points on 16 goals and 21 assists. … The Flyers' 16.6 average penalty minutes lead the league. … Philadelphia is 11-0-0 when leading after the first period and 14-0-1 when leading after two.

Anisimov apologizes

The Ranger tells the Lightning he is sorry for his gun-shooting goal celebration Thursday. 2C

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Tampa Bay Lightning's Marty St. Louis progressing after face injury; Lightning offensive stars must step up 12/09/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 12:18am]
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