Any other day, Mike Angelidis would have been the big story in the Lightning's 4-2 victory over the Blue Jackets Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The rookie, called up earlier in the day, scored his first goal on his first shot in his first NHL game.
"A dream come true," he said.
But even Angelidis gave it up for teammates Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.
Each had a goal and an assist as Tampa Bay (21-23-4) raised its season-best winning streak to four games. And they combined on St. Louis' winning goal with a play so pretty St. Louis said it reminded him of 2006-07, when the pair tore up the league as linemates.
"They're such good leaders," Angelidis said. "They come out hard every game and battle. To watch guys like that shows me what I'm going to have to do to get to this level."
"I just think we both feel good about our games right now," St. Louis said. "When you do that you help one another. Sometimes you benefit from where the other guy's game is at, so it's one of those things."
Nate Thompson had an insurance goal and goaltender Mathieu Garon was solid with 22 saves.
Still, this was not one of the Lightning's best games. It was sloppy at times, not altogether surprising considering nine players are out with injuries and the lineup included five players who began the season in the minors.
But that is when one's best players need to step up.
St. Louis played a season-high 28:56. Lecavalier, camped in front of the net, scored a power-play goal by tipping in Bruno Gervais' blue-line shot.
Each also extended points streaks to six games in which St. Louis has two goals, 10 points and Lecavalier three and 10.
St. Louis' goal with 3:04 left in the second period made the score 3-1 and stirred memories.
The give-and-go began with St. Louis passing to Lecavalier and streaking for the net. Lecavalier's cross-ice pass from the bottom of the right faceoff circle was pinpoint to St. Louis at the left post for a tap-in.
"That was outstanding," St. Louis said. "It felt like '06 when we had that big year. It was one of those plays where you get a flashback ... 'wow.' "
Added Lecavalier: "For him to back the D up and for him to give me that puck and drive the net and how quick he was, it was a nice play."
And it helped send Tampa Bay to the All-Star break with a three-spot leap to 11th in the East but still nine points out of the playoffs.
"We've isolated every game," coach Guy Boucher said, "and try to make it the masterpiece of the day."
It helps when two of his best players craft a masterpiece play.
* * *
First-timers Mike Angelidis on Tuesday became the fifth Lightning player to score in his first NHL game:
|Mike Angelidis||Tuesday||Blue Jackets|
|Ryan Craig||Dec. 17, 2005||Red Wings|
|Jimmie Olvestad||Oct. 5, 2001||Islanders|
|Paul Mara||April 17, 1999||Panthers|
|Alex Selivanov||Jan. 20, 1995||Penguins|