PITTSBURGH - In his lengthy NHL career, Martin St. Louis has been a wildly successful but streaky player.
The 39-year-old right wing, who arrived in New York in March 2014 from Tampa Bay in a trade for Ryan Callahan, has scored at almost a point-a- game pace (1,033 in 1,134 games) since he broke in with the Calgary Flames in 1999.
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This season, St. Louis scored 21 goals and added 31 assists in 74 games.
But in the first three games of the first-round series with the Penguins, St. Louis hadn't hit the scoresheet. He played 48:49 and had just three shots on goal.
Last night in Game 4 he had an assist on the overtime goal that gave the Rangers a 2-1 win. St. Louis was battling with defenseman Ben Lovejoy and managed to get the puck toward the crease. It hit Carl Hagelin's skate, went under goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Hayes scored from the left post.
St. Louis spoke yesterday about the Rangers taking leads in all three first periods, but he could have been talking about himself as well.
"Sometimes the opportunities come early, you want to capitalize on those," St. Louis said. "It's being sharp, being ready; sometimes a good start is not so much what you get, it's what you don't give to them as well. It's a fine line."
After spraining his knee March 15 against the Panthers, St. Louis missed eight games. But in the final six regular-season games, playing with Hayes and Hagelin, he had a goal and four assists. The knee was fine.
But St. Louis knows he must help create some offense for a team with nine goals in four games. In 25 playoff games last season, he scored eight goals and 15 points, playing with a heavy heart from midway through the second-round series against the Penguins after his mother passed away.
"We've got to find a way to spend more time in their zone, winning faceoffs . . . there's so many things that come into play," he said Wednesday, "but overall, we have to be better."