Lightning 4, Flames 1
Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier buzzed all around the Calgary Flames' net. Captain Dave Andreychuk checked just about everyone wearing red. And, perhaps most importantly, goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin returned to form by making a handful of important saves.
And that was just the first period.
The Lightning came out of the locker room with the energy it had lacked in the series opener and it maintained it for 60 minutes Thursday night at St. Pete Times Forum, where it romped to a 4-1 victory in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals in front of a rambunctious, record crowd of 22,222.
Tampa Bay, which has not lost consecutive games this postseason, evened the best-of-seven series at 1. Game 3 will be Saturday night in Calgary.
Ruslan Fedotenko, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis scored for the Lightning, which also got 18 saves from Khabibulin. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff faced 31 shots while Flames captain Jarome Iginla was held without a goal for the first time in five games.
"You knew they were going to come out hard and they did," Calgary Coach Darryl Sutter said of the Lightning. "Our skilled players weren't as effective as their skilled players."
Richards's third-period goal gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead and tied the record for most game winners in a postseason (six), equaling Joe Sakic (Colorado, 1996) and Joe Nieuwendyk (Dallas, 1999). Tampa Bay is 7-0 in these playoffs when Richards scores.
"I tried the last four games to really hit their defense and play with more energy," said Lecavalier, who had three assists, including a spectacular individual effort in the first period. "It's been working, so I'm going to keep at it."
Although Tampa Bay dictated play, Calgary trailed only 1-0 entering the third period, which began with Kiprusoff thwarting a 46-second five-on-three opportunity for the Lightning.
But Richards banged in a pass from Andreychuk (two assists) moments after the two-man advantage expired to put the Lightning in control, 2-0.
Two third-period fights and plenty of rough stuff after the final buzzer had sounded turned up the level of intensity in this series. The game included 32 penalties.
Tampa Bay wasted no time grabbing a 1-0 lead.
Fedotenko scored his 10th goal of the playoffs 7 minutes 10 seconds into the game. One of the Lightning's clutch scorers this postseason, Fedotenko banged in his own rebound, with Kiprusoff sprawled on the ice and a Flames defenseman draped over his shoulders.
Fedotenko's goal was set up by a scintillating move by Lecavalier behind the net. Lecavalier, set up behind Kiprusoff, turned Ference inside out by bouncing the puck off the back goal, then spinning 360 degrees and controlling it. He then whipped it out front to Fedotenko.
"It wasn't the moves that was important tonight," Lightning Coach John Tortorella said of Lecavalier. "It was his presence. You're looking at him maturing, trying to show his team, 'Hey follow me.' . . . We knew that we were going to play the way the Lightning plays tonight."
The first period featured plenty of end-to-end action, but it was at times slowed to a crawl by penalties. Six infractions were whistled, resulting in four power plays for the Flames. Khabibulin stopped all four shots he faced while the Lightning was short-handed.
Barely two minutes into the second period, Kiprusoff thwarted Richards on a breakaway. Richards's shot started an avalanche of activity in the Calgary end. The Lightning took 10 shots in the period, the majority of them quality scoring chances.
Boyle, whose home incurred $300,000 in fire damage Tuesday while he was playing in Game 1, scored moments after Richards to make the score 3-0. St. Louis's power play goal made the score 4-0.
"It's been a rough couple of days, sleeping hasn't been very good," Boyle said. "That was awesome."
Calgary's Ville Nieminen tallied on the power play late in the third period.
Note: A fan scored on Washington Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig during the first intermission and claimed $250,000 check from Nextel. Andy Slater, 25-year-old Florida Panthers season-ticket holder, scored on wrist shot from between the circles over the blocker of Kolzig, who was wearing his equipment and guarding an 8-by-12 goal, twice regulation dimensions. "That was a good shot," Kolzig said. "And he did it front of 20,000 people."