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Martin St. Louis returns to Tampa with shot at 1,000 points

New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis

New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis celebrates his goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski in the second period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Martin St. Louis, perhaps the greatest player in Tampa Bay Lightning history, understands the situation.

After his relationship with management continued to sour, including an Olympic team snub from Tampa Bay general manager and Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman, St. Louis, 39, asked to be sent to the Rangers by last season's trade deadline.

Given that St. Louis was captain of the Lightning, that didn't sit well with the fans, who were bitter that the world-class right wing asked out.

As if the drama wouldn't be enough when the Rangers visit Amalie Arena on Wednesday night for the first time since the swap of St. Louis for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan last March 5, there's an added story line.

With a goal and an assist on Sunday against the Canadiens, St. Louis has 998 points, so he could reach the 1,000-point milestone in his longtime stamping grounds.

Asked how he would feel if he hits the mark on Wednesday night, St. Louis said: "I don't know. I'll eventually get there. I'll try not to think about it too much. There's going to be a lot of emotion for me . . . nothing but great memories in Tampa. I'm sure I'm going to feel it when I'm there."

No wonder. St. Louis produced 356 goals and 953 of those points with the Lightning in 972 regular-season games. In 63 playoff games, which included a Stanley Cup championship in 2004, he added 33 goals and 68 points.

Alain Vigneault believes St. Louis will control those emotions. "I know [Wednesday night's] game is obviously going to be real special," he said. "But one shift at a time, and he needs to focus on playing the right way. He knows the right way to play and I'm sure he'll keep his emotions in check and do the right things out there."

In his first meeting with his former team Nov. 17, St. Louis had a goal but was a minus-4 in a 5-1 loss that left the Rangers embarrassed.

But he turned the page. On Sunday, St. Louis had a goal and an assist on two pretty second-period plays against Montreal, giving him seven goals and four assists in his last 10 games.

Given his value to the Lightning, a video montage surely will be part of the evening. A smattering of boos also is likely.

"I understand why some of the fans point at me," said St. Louis, who has an offseason home in Greenwich, Connecticut, "but for me, my family, it was time to move on."

Notes & quotes:Veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder, 35, who suffered a shoulder injury during training camp with the Maple Leafs, signed a professional tryout contract and is expected to practice with the Hartford Wolfpack this week.

The Swedish-born Tallinder played 678 games with Buffalo and New Jersey. In 64 games with the Sabres last season, he averaged 18 minutes per game and totaled two goals and eight points.

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