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St. Louis Hat Trick Helps Lightning Beat Panthers

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(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Martin St. Louis scored three times in his 900th NHL game, Steven Stamkos added his league-leading 34th goal and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers 6-3 on Saturday night.

St. Louis got two goals during Tampa Bay’s four-goal second, helping the Lightning take a 5-3 lead entering the third. The right wing, who has six goals and 16 points during a nine-game point streak, completed the hat trick on an empty-netter during the final minute of play.

Nate Thompson and Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the Lightning, who have won six of seven. Lecavalier added three assists.

Florida got goals from Tomas Fleischmann, Mikael Samuelsson and Sean Bergenheim. The Southeast Division-leading Panthers were coming off a 2-1 win over Winnipeg on Friday night.

Stamkos scored on his own rebound to give Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead with 7:24 left in the second. The center has six goals and eight points in six games against Florida this season.

Bergenheim pulled Florida to 5-3 with 46 seconds to go in the second.

Tampa Bay went up 2-1 when Lecavalier scored his 20th goal this season from the high slot at 1:42 of the second. The Lightning captain has reached the 20-goal plateau in 12 consecutive seasons.

St. Louis extended the Lightning advantage to 3-1 when he picked up a loose puck just outside the crease and wrapped a shot around goalie Scott Clemmensen 2:40 after Lecavalier’s goal. St. Louis also scored with 4:52 left in the second off a nifty pass from Lecavalier.

Clemmensen was pulled late in the second after allowing five goals on 25 shots and was replaced by Brian Foster, who made one save over 5 minutes in his NHL debut. Clemmensen returned to start the third.

Samuelsson cut the Florida deficit to 3-2 on the rebound after Mathieu Garon made a strong stop on Bergenheim’s shot from the slot at 7:06 of the second.

Thompson put the Lightning ahead 1-0 during a 2-on-1 just 1:37 into the game. Florida tied it 1-all when Fleischmann scored from the right circle at 3:54 of the first off an backhand pass from the boards by Kris Versteeg.

Notes: This was the final game of the season series in which the Lightning went 4-1-1 … Samuelsson has four goals and five points during a four-game point streak. … Tampa Bay LW Ryan Malone, who has missed four games due to an undisclosed upper-body injury, has resumed skating.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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