Lightning strikes early
and evens series at 2-2
By JOHN DELLAPINA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
CALGARY - Two nights before, the Calgary Flames had been celebrated
for their intimidating physical play.
Last night, they crossed the line and intimidation became
An early crosscheck by Chris Clark created a two-man advantage and
led to a goal for Tampa Bay, and a late forearm to the back of
Vincent Lecavalier's head by Ville Nieminen pretty much precluded a
The resilient Lightning clawed out a 1-0 triumph in the Saddledome
that evened the Stanley Cup Finals at 2-2.
Center Brad Richards cashed in on Calgary's early mistake to score
his playoff-record seventh game-winning goal 2:48 into the game. And
Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin held off Calgary's
shorthanded pressure in the final five minutes to make the last of
his 29 saves and earn his fifth shutout of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay got big efforts from its role players on a night when two
key players, sniper Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Pavel Kubina,
were out with injuries and still has yet to lose consecutive games in
And after cross-continent flights and a couple of days off to lick
their many wounds, the teams will commence what has boiled down to a
best-of-three series Thursday night in Tampa.
The Lightning will be trying to accomplish a modest feat it hasn't
managed since sweeping Montreal in the second round: winning two
Calgary will go back to walking the fine line between rollicking and
out of control. Not that the Flames believed they deserved the
judgments they received primarily from veteran referee Kerry Fraser
"We were so good everywhere - except getting a five-on-three called
against us," Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said. "What is a penalty on
the second shift isn't on the first shift. A penalty in the first
period isn't a penalty in the third period."
For its part, though Tampa now has at least three significant players
either out or injured because of high hits, the Lightning chose not
to make a public issue of complaining about Calgary's style.
Instead, Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella went back to a traditional
12-forward, six-defensemen lineup.
He used lightly deployed defenseman Jassen Cullimore to take the
place of Kubina (possible concussion) in the matchup against Jarome
Iginla's line. And he created a high-energy fourth line of previously
unused Ben Clymer and Martin Cibak along with Chris Dingman.
As a result, for one of the few times this season, the high-octane
Lightning was led as much by its role players as its stars - with the
notable exception of Khabibulin.
"I'll put it this way: We found a way to get it done - skill players,
new guys coming in," Tortorella said. "And that's the most important
thing. Ugly as hell, but we found a way."
Given an early gift by Calgary's overexuberance and Fraser's guts to
make the calls, Tampa Bay capitalized on a two-minute, two-man
Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk worked the puck back to Richards at
the top of the left circle. And with Lecavalier parking himself in
the slot to obscure Miikka Kiprusoff's view, Richards blasted his
10th goal of the playoffs over the goaltender's catching glove.
The goal held up, so the Lightning will go home with a chance to take
a 3-2 lead instead of having a must-win game.