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Craig, Richards lead Lightning past Panthers

Nov 23, 2006 - 3:59 AM
SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Brad Richards and the Tampa Bay Lighting were tired of being pushed around. So they did some pushing back.

Richards and Ryan Craig scored two goals apiece and Martin St. Louis added two assists as the Lightning posted a 6-4 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Tampa Bay had been outscored, 11-3, in its last two games. The Lightning were beaten, 4-1, by the New York Rangers on Sunday before Monday's 7-2 rout at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.

However, Tampa Bay found some life against its intrastate rival, jumping to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Eric Perrin and Richards. The Lightning almost netted a third goal in the opening session, but Vincent Lecavalier missed a penalty shot.

"We probably played a little more desperate tonight," Richards said. "We needed a win. We knew we could take it to these guys like we did in the first period but we knew it wouldn't be easy. They had a surge there in the second."

Ville Peltonen, Gary Roberts and defenseman Ruslan Salei scored in the second session to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.

The Lighting scored the first three goals of the third period - including two by Craig - to snap a two-game losing streak.

"We never let the game get away from us at any point tonight," Craig said. "We felt in control, kept our composure and never wavered from our game plan."

"(In the) third period, we let them off the hook," Panthers defenseman Mike Van Ryn said. "A few bad breakdowns and they capitalized on them."

Lightning coach John Tortorella was impressed by the way his team fought back in the third period to take control.

"We played well," Tortorella said. "We went out and attacked. They were creative. I don't think they were nervous. ... I think they collected themselves between periods and didn't say 'Oh, no, here we go again.'"

Johan Holmqvist stopped 31 shots while Florida netminder Alex Auld swept aside 28.

"It's extremely frustrating because we need to put a string of wins together, not just back to back," Panthers center Joe Nieuwendyk said. "Tonight was a good opportunity. It seems we take a step forward and (then) a step backwards."

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