WINNIPEG – Rick Tocchet thinks Martin St. Louis would make a potent addition to Canada’s Olympic hockey team. The dangerous forward proved his coach right on Thursday.
St. Louis scored his second goal of the game 4:53 into overtime and added an assist in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-3 exhibition win over the Edmonton Oilers.
“He’s just smart, he’s just dangerous on the ice,” Tocchet said after his Lightning upped their exhibition record to 3-1-2.
“He’s the ultimate pro. I’m glad Canada’s got him for the Olympics because he’s a hell of a hockey player.”
His winning goal before an MTS Centre crowd of 11,644 handed the Oilers (3-3-1) their fourth straight exhibition loss.
Edmonton head coach Pat Quinn saw familiar bad habits from his players.
“We still are a team that overpasses,” Quinn said. “Some of our guys want to pass it into the net, you know. But that’s just a recognition of what you have and what kind of things you can make happen.”
He did praise the line of Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson and Sam Gagner.
“They looked like they cared when they got the puck and they had good results,” Quinn said.
The Lightning came out of the first period with a 2-0 lead as Oilers netminder Jeff Deslauriers’ reflexes were tested.
Winger Ryan Malone got Tampa’s first goal when he took the rebound of a Steve Stamkos shot, curled in front of the net and flipped the puck over a sprawling Deslauriers at 4:13. St. Louis assisted on the goal.
With the man-advantage late in the first, Lightning winger Alex Tanguay sent a quick pass to St. Louis, who one-timed a torpedo past Deslauriers for the 2-0 edge at 17:21.
The Oilers picked up the pace in the middle frame and it paid off.
With Lightning defenceman Matt Walker in the penalty box for tripping, Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert initiated a nice passing sequence, sliding the puck through traffic on to the stick of Gagner.
Gagner then fed the puck across the ice to Nilsson, who fired a high shot past Smith to close the gap 2-1 at 15:52.
Cogliano tied it 2-2 with 28 seconds to go in the period when he outskated Tampa defenceman Andrej Meszaros and put a backhand shot by Smith.
After being outshot 8-6 by Tampa in the opening period, Edmonton surged ahead 19-12 after 40 minutes and 30-26 after the game.
Gilbert scored his go-ahead goal at 4:13 of the third period when Smith’s glove wasn’t fast enough to snare his shot.
But with less than two minutes to go, Tampa defenceman Kurtis Foster sent the game into overtime with a long shot that went through traffic past Deslauriers.
“We lost the actual war in the middle and we’re just going to have to do better,” Quinn said.
Edmonton returns home to host Vancouver on Sunday, while Tampa heads to Atlanta to play the Thrashers.