Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/19/13
TAMPA -- Eric Brewer hadn't scored two goals in a game since 2004 or even reached the net once in 50 games. But the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman's two scores not only bookended a 6-3 season-opening win over the Southeast Division rival Washington Capitals on Saturday, it had him thinking about leveraging his fortune while it lasted. First, he said he would remind teammate Steven Stamkos, who has twice led the NHL in goals, that he was already crushing him statistically, and then, he added, "I'm going to buy a Powerball ticket." Martin St. Louis also scored twice and Tampa Bay rookie Cory Conacher had a goal and assist in his NHL debut. The Capitals collapsed in allowing three third-period goals in their first game under head coach Adam Oates. St. Louis' score with 15 minutes, three seconds left in the game on a 5-on-3 opportunity gave the Lightning a one-goal lead before Conacher, the American Hockey League Player of the Year, added his first career goal. He had notched an assist earlier despite, he said, a nervousness level that was "very high." Brewer closed the scoring for the Lightning. Washington produced the initial seven shots of the game amid three early power plays, but the Lightning took a 1-0 lead when Brewer put Tampa Bay's first shot of the season over goaltender Braden Holtby's glove from the left side at 6:24 of the first period. Washington responded quickly with a power-play goal from Joel Ward at 8:25 of the first, his first of two. But Tampa Bay retook the lead less than a minute later when Vincent Lecavalier ripped in a rebound of a shot that hit the pipe. Both teams called the early power plays crucial, for the Lightning in settling down, for the Caps in never settling in. Holtby said Washington in the first period was "just trying to get back into the swing of things." "It's weird to have three power plays to start the game, and it's not what you really want because you want all your guys going and get(ting) in the flow," Oates said. "We had our chances but made a lot of mistakes." Goaltender Anders Lindback made 27 saves on 30 shots in his Lightning debut. Holtby made 28 saves on 34 shots. Ward tied the game, 2-2, just one minute, 59 seconds into the second period but Tampa Bay again responded quickly to regain the lead, as St. Louis skated unchallenged through the crease to redirect a Lecavalier pass from the left side in for a power-play score. The Lightning led 3-2. NOTES: Lightning rookie C Cory Conacher earned a second-period assist in his NHL debut. ... Lightning D Eric Brewer had one goal in 82 games last season. ... Lightning RW Martin St. Louis said the condensed 48-game schedule over 99 days will require "almost like a playoff attitude" as teams play only conference opponents. "I think you just have to manage your ups and downs," he said, "can't get too down. You don't have time to feel sorry for yourself. Everything is going to happen quick and you don't have five-to-10 games to dwell on things. You've just got to (get) ready for the next one." ... Saturday's game marked the beginning of Tampa Bay's 20th-anniversary season. ... Washington defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who was Tampa Bay's first draft pick in 1992, participated in a ceremonial faceoff officiated by Lightning founder Phil Esposito. ... Injured F Brooks Laich did not dress for Washington. ... Scratches were John Erskine, Joey Crabb and Eric Fehr (Washington) and Brendan Mikkelson, Dana Tyrell and Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Tampa Bay).
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