- The Washington Times - Friday, May 28, 2004

TAMPA, Fla. — Coach John Tortorella gave his Tampa Bay team grief Tuesday for not showing underdog Calgary enough respect in Game1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, a game the Flames won easily. The Lightning obviously got the message, whipping the visitors in a one-sided 4-1 victory last night that evened the best-of-7 series, which resumes tomorrow in Calgary.

“We knew yesterday that we were going to play the game we were supposed to play,” Tortorella said. “In the first game, we didn’t. It’s a mindset. In the playoffs, you look for answers to try to find a response. Our guys did a pretty good job tonight.”

Given Tortorella’s lecture and Tampa Bay’s domination of its previous four playoff games following losses, the series probably was destined to be deadlocked even before Lightning right wing Ruslan Fedotenko put in his own rebound at 7:10 of the first period.

The goal, Fedotenko’s fifth in five games, was the handiwork of All-Star center Vincent Lecavalier, who made a highlight film play behind the Calgary net, flipping the puck off the net and back to himself before passing out to Jassen Cullimore, who fed Fedotenko.

“Vinny is a special player,” Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said. “He tries a lot of things most players don’t and he gets away with it. It was nothing new for us to see that.”

Meanwhile, Calgary coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t surprised to see Lecavalier and Co. respond so well to Tuesday’s loss.

“You knew they were going to come out hard, and they did,” said Sutter, whose team managed just one shot during its four punchless power plays in the first period. “Our skilled players other than Jarome [Iginla] weren’t as effective in tough areas as their skilled players. Lecavalier and their defense dominated the first part of the game.”

Calgary had three power plays in the first 16 minutes but managed just one shot on Nikolai Khabibulin, who is 5-0 with a 1.00 goal-against in games after losses this spring. Brad Richards had a marvelous chance to make it 2-0 at 2:21 of the second period, but Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stoned him on a short-handed breakaway.

The Finn also robbed Lecavalier twice in the last 10 minutes of the period to keep his team within a goal heading into the final period. However, Tampa Bay is 13-1 when leading after two periods.

Penalties on Oleg Saprykin and Stephane Yelle gave the Lightning a two-man advantage for 46 seconds early in the third period, but they failed to build their lead. However, shortly after the second power play expired, captain Dave Andreychuk passed from his knees to Richards at the right crease for the latter’s ninth goal of the playoffs at 2:51.

Tampa Bay is 29-0-2 when Richards scores, 7-0 in postseason. His sixth game-winner this spring tied the record held by Joe Sakic (Colorado, 1996) and Joe Nieuwendyk (Dallas, 1999).

Just 69 seconds later, Boyle, whose house suffered major fire damage during Tuesday’s loss, buried a great feed from Richards to make it 3-0.

“That was awesome,” Boyle said. “Obviously, it’s been a rough couple of days. We knew the second we stepped off the ice after the last game that we hadn’t done enough. We came out with a lot more desperation tonight.”

Martin St. Louis then boosted his playoff-high scoring total to 21 points in 18 games when he beat the helpless Kiprusoff with Tampa Bay skating 5-on-3 at 5:58. The Lightning have at least one power play goal in their past eight games.

Ville Nieminen’s power-play goal ruined Khabibulin’s shutout attempt with 7:39 left, but that didn’t give much a lift to the Flames. And with just four wins in the Saddledome this postseason, returning to Calgary isn’t necessarily good news for the Western Conference champions.

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