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St. Louis' hat trick leads Lightning over Hurricanes

Oct 27, 2006 - 2:07 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Once Martin St. Louis got on a roll, there was little the Carolina Hurricanes could do to stop him.

St. Louis scored a natural hat trick in the second period and Marc Denis made 17 saves to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 triumph over the Hurricanes.

In winning for the fourth time in five contests, Tampa Bay avenged a 5-1 loss to Carolina on October 16 by taking the second meeting of the season between the last two Stanley Cup champions.

"We played very well away from the puck," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We had some good sticks in all three zones, had some good forechecking, shot the puck when we needed to. We weren't fancy. We tried to play a straight-ahead game."

The 2004 Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner, St. Louis scored in his second straight game midway through the second period when he knocked Brad Richards' back pass from the left corner past goaltender Cam Ward's right skate on a power play for a 2-0 lead.

"I wouldn't mind if I keep going like this," St. Louis said. "Sometimes, the net looks big and other times it looks small. Sometimes, it just takes one goal to get going. Early on we were sluggish and then we got better as the game went on."

"The one that went off the glass onto St. Louis' tape is something you just don't count on," Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican said. "It's one of those things where he was hot tonight. Everything he was shooting was going in the net. He had a couple of opportunities and buried it."

St. Louis netted his second goal with 4:38 remaining in the session, putting a rebound of defenseman Filip Kuba's blast from the right point over Ward's right shoulder.

"Marty got a couple of bounces that he wouldn't have happened early in the season," Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said. "The puck (is) starting to go in the net. If we get in a scoring slump again, we just have to ride it out."

The 31-year-old St. Louis capped his fourth career hat trick just 1:41 later with a wrister from the right faceoff circle that sneaked under the crossbar for his fifth tally of the campaign and a 4-0 bulge.

"I got a lot of chances and I was able to capitalize on some of them," St. Louis said. "That's the difference tonight from many nights so far this year. It's nice to get rewarded for those chances you get and that you create."

Acquired from Columbus for Frederik Modin and Frederik Norrena on June 30, Denis recorded his 99th career victory. He stopped nine shots in the first period and six in the second before Erik Staal's shorthanded tally with 5:15 left in the third spoiled the shutout bid.

Ward, who also gave up a first-period goal to Ruslan Fedotenko, made 17 saves over two periods before being replaced by John Grahame.

"It was a pretty even game," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "They got a bounce, (a) tough break off the boards. They caught a little wind with it and then got the third goal. After that point, we were just scrambling. I think it just zapped our energy."

The Hurricanes lost for the third time in four games and will host Tampa Bay on Saturday to complete the home-and-home series.

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