TAMPA — Corey Perry had been a patient player for the first 17 games of the season. The forward consistently waited in the goal crease as scoring opportunities passed him by one shot at a time.
Tuesday night that patience was rewarded. He scored his first goal of the season in the Lightning’s 4-0 win against the Flyers at Amalie Arena.
It didn’t matter that it was the third goal of the night for the Lightning (11-4-3). It mattered so much more that Perry was behind the shot. And the celebration said it all as he skated away with his arms raised.
His teammates surrounded him in a corner to share the moment before he skated toward the bench, grabbing a fictitious monkey off his back and throwing it into the announced sellout crowd of 19,092 as he moved along the glass boards.
“It was good,” said Perry, who joined the Lightning in the offseason in free agency. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Steven Stamkos — who recorded a three-point night with a goal and two assists — said all Perry’s chances had been building up to that moment.
“The amazing thing is he wasn’t getting frustrated,” Stamkos said. “He’s had a ton of scoring chances, and eventually with a player that has a set of hands like he does around the net, they’re eventually going to go in, and you could obviously see how happy he was. We’re all very happy for him.”
Perry’s goal drought was an anomaly in a 17-year career that includes a Stanley Cup (2007 in Anaheim), a Hart Trophy as league MVP (2010-11) and a Rocket Richard Trophy (2010-11) as the league’s top goal scorer.
“It was a tough start (to the season),” Perry said. “I scored a goal in the preseason, but that doesn’t matter. … There’s obviously a little bit of frustration, but I think I just continued to be myself and play and help the other guys. And when you’re not scoring … it’s frustrating, but you just keep coming to the rink with a smile on your face and put in the work, and good things are going to happen.”
Said coach Jon Cooper: “Corey’s been around the net a ton this year. And you could tell, just the way that was a goal-scorer’s goal. And if you can finish around there, it was just a matter of time.”
Perry’s goal wasn’t the only first of the night. Defenseman Zach Bogosian, who opened scoring 2:28 into the first period, ended a goal drought that extended to Jan. 12, 2020, when he played with the Sabres.
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Forward Pat Maroon shuffled the puck out to the wall, where defenseman Mikhail Sergachev grabbed it and brought it to the middle of the ice. He saw Bogosian waiting on the left side and quickly dished a pass to his partner, who one-timed it past Flyers goaltender Carter Hart.
“He was on it (Tuesday),” Cooper said.
Forward Alex Barre-Boulet also scored, and seven players in all had at least one point.
The quartet of goals also helped secure Andrei Vasilevskiy’s first shutout of the season (34 saves) and 27th of his career. His next win will be the 200th since he played his first 50-game season six years ago.
“He’s exceptional,” Cooper said. “To have that kind of moniker as it is now and the stats that back him up in … not a ton of time in this league, it’s worthwhile for us, that’s for sure.”
Contact Mari Faiello at email@example.com. Follow @faiello_mari.
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