BRANDON - Martin St. Louis believes it is just a matter of time.
St. Louis, the playoff's leading scorer with 19 points, knows there were moments early in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Flames when he could have impacted the game, when the puck was on his stick with a chance to score.
He hopes the same is true tonight in Game 2.
"I had two great opportunities in the first period that could have made a difference. I wasn't able to capitalize, but you can't dwell on that," St. Louis said. "You've just got to take the positive out of it and move on. I'm getting ready for Game 2. I am going to work hard to get as many chances again and hopefully capitalize."
St. Louis, a finalist for league MVP, led the NHL in scoring during the regular season with 94 points. He has six goals and 13 assists in the playoffs, one more point than Calgary's Jarome Iginla, who has a playoff-best 11 goals, and teammate Brad Richards. But St. Louis had not scored a goal in five games before converting on the power play 4:13 into the third Tuesday to make it 3-1. His only goal in the previous 11 games came late in a 6-2 loss to the Flyers in Game 2 of the East final. "I think my best series has been the Islanders," St. Louis said of the first round, in which he scored four goals in the final three games. "It has been a long playoff, and my game has gone up and down. But I feel my game is on the way back up.
"I know (Tuesday) night was a loss, but I did something I hadn't done in a while. I guess I am going to take that into Game 2 and, hopefully, capitalize on the chances I can get."
During a physical series against the Flyers, St. Louis was without a key element to his game: room to skate. Without open ice, St. Louis cannot take advantage of his speed and creativity in the offensive zone. In Game 1 against the Flames, St. Louis had room for the first time in weeks.
With Tampa Bay trailing 1-0 in the first period, St. Louis went to the net on a rush with Cory Stillman, who set up St. Louis with a backhand pass. St. Louis appeared to rush his shot and fired wide. "I think that's a pretty important moment of the game where, maybe, we answer right away," coach John Tortorella said. "It's all a mind-set. If he capitalizes there, maybe things were a little bit different or it gives us a chance."
Tortorella said St. Louis played well in Game 1 and, based on the opportunities St. Louis had, looks for him to cash in soon.
"He's one of our best players," Tortorella said. "I thought he did some really good things. It's a matter of time before he starts scoring consistently again, which is a very important thing for our team."
St. Louis wants badly to deliver, which explains why a player whose canny passes set up several key goals against the Flyers would feel the need to account for missed chances.
"That's why he's at the top of the league, because he demands a lot from himself," captain Dave Andreychuk said. "All the good players do. He's a guy who wants to carry the load. We're trying to help him out as best we can. That's the kind of example that's kind of filtered down through our room."
In Game 1, at least there were chances.
Not that chances are enough for St. Louis.
"That's a positive, I guess," he said. "But again, scoring chances, after a while, mean nothing if you don't bear down and capitalize on them."