Valtteri Filppula and the Tampa Bay Lightning have kept up a strong start even without their leading scorer.
Filppula had two goals and an assist, goalie Ben Bishop won his 13th game this season and the Lightning beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 in a matchup of conference leaders Thursday night.
Martin St. Louis added a goal and two assists for the Lightning, who played their first home game and second overall – both victories – without star Steven Stamkos. The center, out indefinitely after breaking his right leg Monday, had surgery Tuesday in Boston and returned to Florida on Thursday.
”Nice to be back home in Tampa,” Stamkos tweeted. ”Can’t thank all the staff at Mass General enough for all their hard work and dedication the past four days.”
Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman had the other Tampa Bay goals. Bishop made 24 saves as the Lightning improved to 7-0-0 against Western Conference teams.
”We talked about this at length,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ”Nobody’s filling 91’s shoes. Not one person can do it. Nobody in the league can do it. But, 20 guys can fill his shoes.”
Emerson Etem scored for the Ducks, who were coming off a 3-2 loss Tuesday night to lowly Florida.
”Even with our record, I thought we were pretty fragile,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”And once you got behind, it was like the shoulders dipped, and again, we didn’t have enough pushback. It’s not us. We haven’t done that in 20 games. When they started to get physical, we didn’t meet the bell.”
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf missed his third game with an upper-body injury, but Boudreau said the center could return Friday at Carolina or Monday against Pittsburgh.
Ducks right wing Corey Perry didn’t take part in the morning skate due to the flu, but was in the lineup. A number of Anaheim players, including starting goalie Jonas Hiller, have had the flu recently.
”If you want to give excuses, yeah. They are,” Boudreau said. ”We just didn’t compete hard enough in a game that was an important game. And when you don’t compete against a team that competes, it doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup or who’s out of the lineup, you’re not going to have success.”
Filppula and St. Louis, on the power play, put the Lightning up 2-0 on first-period goals. St. Louis ended a seven-game goal drought.
”I think the whole year we’ve been playing well as a team,” Filppula said. ”Stamkos is a big part of the team. But now, we’re forced to play well without him, and I think playing the whole year pretty well, we have the confidence that we can do it.”
The Ducks went 13 1/2 minutes before getting a shot in the first. Bishop made an in-close save late in the period on Teemu Selanne. The right wing, 11th on the career goals list with 678, has not scored a goal in his last nine games.
Tampa Bay went up 3-0 on Filppula’s power-play goal 3:16 into the second. Killorn made it 4-0 at 10:51 of the second.
Etem pulled Anaheim to 4-1 with 3:53 left in the second. Hedman scored early in the third.
”They just outworked us,” said Hiller, who stopped 15 shots. ”They put pressure on us. We were just giving the puck away, and that definitely boosted their confidence.”
The Ducks are 8-4-1 against the East, including 4-4-1 versus Atlantic Division teams.
NOTES: Selanne got a 2-minute roughing penalty, his first infraction of the season, during a second-period scrum that involved Tampa Bay D Radko Gudas, who made a hard check on him. Gudas was given roughing and holding minors. … Lightning D Sami Salo, who missed his second game with a lower-body injury, could return during a four-game road trip that starts Saturday at Phoenix. … Anaheim G Viktor Fasth was the backup after missing 14 game with a lower-body injury. G Frederik Andersen was reassigned to Norfolk of the AHL. … Ducks LW Matt Beleskey (upper-body injury) is playing with Norfolk. … Selanne, who plans to retire after this season, scored the second-ever hat trick against the expansion Lightning on March 9, 1993.