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Blues rally for win in Miller's home debut

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[March 05, 2014]  ST. LOUIS  New St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller cannot tell a lie.

The 11-year veteran felt like a nervous rookie prior to his home debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

"My sports psychologist might be mad at me for saying it, but it was not just another game," Miller said. "It was something special."

Miller, acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, made 15 saves to record his second win in as many starts for his new team, and the Blues rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2.

Left winger Alexander Steen broke a 2-2 tie with his team-high 29th goal at 3:47 of the final period.

St. Louis (41-14-6) won its second in a row after losing the first two games following the Olympic break.

Tampa Bay (34-23-5) lost for the seventh time in 10 games, and it concluded a four-game road trip with a 1-3 mark.

Miller, a member of the United States Olympic team, stopped 23 shots in a 4-2 victory at Phoenix on Sunday. Coincidentally, the Blues fell behind 2-0 in that contest before scoring four unanswered goals, just as they did against the Lightning.


Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis, made 25 saves, but he fell to 29-11-4.

Center Patrik Berglund, right winger T.J. Oshie and right winger Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for St. Louis, which improved to 23-5-2 at home.

Centers Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson tallied for the Lightning, who bolted to a 2-0 lead after just six shots on goal.

However, Miller bounced back with several fine saves, including two highlight-reel stops in the third period.

"I'm excited to be here, and I want to go out there and show what I could do," Miller said. "Hopefully I can continue to give them some stuff to cheer about."

Miller received a standing ovation before the game when he was announced as the starting goaltender.

St. Louis right winger and captain David Backes said Miller is fitting in perfectly with his new teammates.

"His work ethic, his focus, his love for goaltending is out of this world," Backes said. "He's always trying to improve his style."


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Steen made Miller's home debut a memorable one by lifting a backhander behind Bishop to cap off the comeback.

"We just stayed composed and kept playing," Steen said.

Oshie tied it 2-2 with a short-handed goal late in the second period. It was his 15th of the season and only the third short-handed goal for the Blues this season. Steen picked up his 200th career assist on the goal.

Berglund brought St. Louis to within 2-1 by scoring off the rebound of a shot by left winger Jaden Schwartz early in the second period. Berglund has 11 goals this season, including three in the past two games.

Killorn and Johnson converted in a span of 7:41 in the first period to put the Lightning in front. Killorn took a pass from right winger Teddy Purcell in the slot at 7:08. Johnson then converted on the power play for his 18th goal of the season. The tally broke his season-high, seven-game scoreless drought.

"We scored two goals in the first (14) minutes and then we get just 11 shots the rest of the game," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "You're not going to win games like that."

Bishop, playing in front of numerous family and friends, stopped 12 first-period shots but was unable to protect the lead.

"It wasn't the best effort," Bishop said, "but I thought we played pretty well at times."

Tarasenko scored into an empty net with 39 seconds left to nail down the victory.


NOTES: Tampa Bay C Valtteri Filppula returned to the lineup after missing four games with a non-displaced fracture of his right ankle. ... The Blues, who began the post-Olympic portion of their schedule with three successive road games, played their first home game since Feb. 8. ... The Lightning kick off a six-game homestand Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. ... G Ryan Miller, an 11-year veteran, played in only one game in St. Louis prior to Tuesday. His Sabres lost 4-2 on Jan. 21, 2012. ... Lightning C Alex Killorn played in his 100th NHL game. ... Lightning C Steven Stamkos may return to the lineup as soon as Thursday. Stamkos, who broke his right leg on Nov. 11, will undergo X-rays on Wednesday to determine his status. He has missed 45 games.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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