TAMPA, Fla. – Martin St. Louis made history.
The 37-year old Lightning centre became the oldest player to win the league scoring title, finishing with a goal and an assist in Tampa Bay’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers in the season finale for two non-playoff teams on Saturday night.
St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy with 60 points, three more than teammate Steven Stamkos.
“I’d trade that for a chance to play in the playoffs any day,” said St. Louis, who had 17 goals and 43 assists.
“You try to finish strong and play the right way,” St. Louis said. “It’s something nobody can take away from you. I’m proud. I’m very excited about it. I’m not going to pretend I’m not.”
Stamkos got the second assist on St. Louis’ goal, giving him one point more than Alex Ovechkin of Washington and Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh, who ended the regular season sidelined by a broken jaw.
St. Louis captured the scoring title in 2004, when Tampa Bay won its only Stanley Cup.
“It’s incredble,” Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. “He’s a smart player. His speed, he’s as fast as when he was 22. Thirty-seven is just a number for him.”
“What a feat,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper added. “I’m really proud to be a part of history.”
Tomas Fleischmann scored his second goal of the game to give Florida a 4-3 lead at 13:53 of the third. Rookie of the year contender Jonathan Huberdeau had three assists, while Marcel Goc added an empty net goal in the final minute of play.
St. Louis assisted on Matt Carle’s goal 5 minutes into the first period that made it 1-0, and scored from in-close to put Tampa Bay up 3-2 at 5:47 of the second. The right wing, with 912 points, moved past Gary Roberts in 95th place on the career list. Bobby Orr is 94th with 915 points.
Tampa Bay also got a goal from Ryan Malone.
Nick Bjugstad scored his first NHL goal for the Panthers. Scottie Upshall had the other Florida goal.
“That was pretty exciting for me,” Bjugstad said. “I didn’t really expect it. It’s tough in the NHL getting shots so I just put it on net and it went in.”
After Malone scored, Bjugstad cut the Florida deficit to 2-1 from the top of the right circle with 3:06 left in the first. Fleischmann tied it at 2 early in the second.
Upshall’s rebound goal at 5:30 of the third got Florida even at 3-all.
“It was a nice way to finish it,” Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. “They worked hard. We started well, we finished well. There were a lot of challenges in between, but we got a snapshot of our potential tonight. It was good to get that comeback and to still have some belief and keep pushing. And they’re pushing in the right direction.”
NOTES: Florida G Jacob Markstrom stopped Benoit Pouliot on a penalty shot 70 seconds into the game. He made 28 saves overall. … Tampa Bay G Anders Lindback stopped 27 shots. … Malone stopped a personal 11-game goal drought. … Panthers LW Eric Selleck (concussion) returned after missing the previous 15 games. He assisted on Upshall’s goal for his first NHL point.