St. Louis scored the game-winner with 8:07 in the third period and added an assist as the Lightning posted a 2-1 triumph over the Capitals to take a three games to two lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Vincent Lecavalier chased a puck deep into the Washington zone and sent a cross-ice pass to defenseman Stan Neckar at the left point. Neckar then found St. Louis at the right side of the net, where he tapped it in for the go-ahead tally.
It sent a record crowd of 21,324 at the St. Pete Times Forum into a frenzy.
"Eighty-five percent of the time, Stan would have taken a shot there," St. Louis said. "But he made a great fake, went wide and I got behind the other guys. He gave me the perfect pass. There was pretty much a whole net to shoot at."
Since scoring just six goals after the All-Star break, St. Louis has erupted with four goals and five assists in the past four games.
"That's the greatest motivation for any athlete - second guessing," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "That's gone on in Marty's career and I believe it is still happening. A guy with that talent and the emotion he plays with, he's going to get something accomplished and at a good time. It's not the size, it's what you bring."
The victory was the first home regulation win in the playoffs for the Lightning, who now stand just one triumph away from clinching their first playoff series in their 11-year history.
"It's just our second playoff appearance, but for a lot of us, it's our first," St. Louis said. "I would say that for the guys that are here, it's the biggest win we've been involved with. But there is a lot more to do. It's a best-of-seven, not a best-of-five."
The Capitals, who are 2-5 all-time when tied after four games, have lost their last three series after losing a 2-0 lead.
Game Six is Sunday in Washington.
"We have two days to think about it," Capitals winger Jaromir Jagr said. "It's a not a good situation, but it's not over. I thought they were in a tougher situation than we are now. They were down 2-0, but when we went to Washington, they responded very well. Now it's up to us as to how we're going to respond."
Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 22 saves and has held the Capitals to one goal in the past two games.
With 46 seconds to play in the contest, Khabibulin knocked down a point-blank shot by Sergei Berezin to preserve his third win in as many games.
"The save on Berezin, just a phenomenal save," Tortorella said. "We still haven't seen Nik's best game. I think he knows that, too. He'll continue to battle and keep making big saves for us as we go through."
The Lightning had to survive a frantic finish as Levacalier was called for a cross-checking penalty with 33 seconds left, giving the Capitals a two-man advantage after goaltender Olaf Kolzig was pulled for an extra attacker.
Washington, however, failed to keep the puck in the zone and never had an opportunity to set up a play.
After going 12 minutes with just one shot in the opening period, the Lightning capitalized on a four-minute power play when goaltender Olaf Kolzig was called for high-sticking Lecavalier in the face.
Defenseman Dan Boyle salvaged the play by stopping a clearing pass at the left point, then sent the puck to St. Louis at the left side of the crease. Vaclav Prospal broke to the net, collected a pass by St. Louis and wristed it under Kolzig's glove.
"The first goal is very important," Jagr said. "The team which scores the first goal of the game has won five times in a row."
The Capitals responded with a goal by Michael Nylander with just under three minutes to go in the second period. From behind the net, Jagr set up Nylander, who broke to the slot and redirected the puck between Khabibulin's pads.
"I felt like when we scored and tied the game, the momentum was shifting to our side a little bit," Jagr said. "I thought if we could have had five more minutes in that period, it would have been a different story. Obviously, the 15-minute rest helped them."
"I thought if we kept pushing we could get the next one, but it didn't happen," Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy added. "There were a few scrambles down there. It's hard to tell from the bench what's going on, but it sure looked that way."
But the Lightning stymied the Capitals' offense in the third, holding them to five shots.
"I felt when we gave up that first goal at the end of the second period, we had to make sure we didn't lose the momentum," St. Louis said. "We had to come out hard in the third and we kept some pretty good pressure on them."
Kolzig finished with 20 saves, but extended his losing streak to three games.