‘It’s such a great story’ — Lightning retire Martin St. Louis’ jersey to the rafters

Martin St. Louis was never the biggest player on the ice. Far from it.

But he had a tremendous impact on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and on Friday the Bolts retired his No. 26 jersey to the rafters at Amalie Arena.

The most decorated player in that franchise’s history — the Lightning record holder in assists with 588 and in points with 953 — St. Louis was an integral member of the 2004 team that captured the Stanley Cup. He scored the overtime winner in Game 6 versus Calgary, sending the championship series to a decisive seventh game, which Tampa Bay won on home ice.

“He was, he still is, and he forever will be the heart and soul of this organization,” said Steven Stamkos during the retirement ceremony, per the Lightning.

Listed at five-foot-eight-inches tall, St. Louis defied the odds and proved all his doubters wrong, not only by the longevity of his career but the brilliance and talent he brought to the game.

Not only did he win a championship with the Lightning, but he posted 1,033 points in 1,134 regular season games throughout his career. As former Bolts head coach John Tortorella said Friday, St. Louis had a “chip on his shoulder down to his ankle.”

“I need to make something perfectly clear — and I want his kids to know this, too: Marty was a pain in the ass to coach,” said Tortorella, now with the Blue Jackets, the opposition for Tampa Bay on Friday.

“He was stubborn. He was convicted. He had questions upon questions … about trying to find a better way to do it, find a better way to beat that team, to beat that opponent, that player. He’s a man that has been told ‘No’ so many times early in his career. ‘No, you’re not good enough.’ ‘No, you’re too small.’

“It’s such a great story. Such a great story for all walks of life to delve into when you have a dream. Not just in hockey … but in all walks of life, read what happened with him, how he went about his business, and it is just unbelievable.”

In his speech, St. Louis called his time in Tampa Bay “some of the best years of my life.” He addressed his teammates, both from the 2004 team and those still playing for the Lightning like Stamkos and Victor Hedman.

He got emotional speaking about his late mother, before the crowd gave him a rousing cheer.

The ceremony concluded with St. Louis and his family watching as his jersey went into the rafters — the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired.

“I will always be a Bolt,” he said.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision┬áduring Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

And … just like that, the Lightning┬átied things up. Wow.

Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

Video will be added when available.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by┬áOndrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.