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Richards unstoppable as Lightning extend streak vs. Penguins

Feb 26, 2007 - 3:08 AM
TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- As Brad Richards goes, so go the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Richards extended his points streak to eight games with his second career four-point performance and Vincent Lecavalier scored his league-leading 41st goal as the Lightning posted their sixth win in eight contests, a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Conn Smythe Trophy winner when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup championship in 2004, Richards has been one of the main contributors in the Lightning's recent surge, which has seen them overtake the Atlanta Thrashers for first place in the Southeast Division. With the triumph, Tampa Bay (36-25-3) increased its divisional lead over idle Atlanta (31-23-10) to three points.

"We're all scoring, and scoring when it counts the most," Richards said. "I've been getting some great bounces, and when you have such great scorers like Marty (St. Louis) and Vinny, a lot of other things just fall into place."

In his previous seven games, Richards collected two goals and nine assists as Tampa Bay went 5-1-1. He remained hot in this one, netting one tally and setting up three others to match his best career effort reached on March 9, when he also had a goal and three assists against Buffalo.

Richards began his impressive day by helping set up St. Louis' 38th goal just over two minutes into the game. The tally tied the career high set by St. Louis in 2003-04, when he won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies.

Defensemen Paul Ranger and Filip Kuba also scored off assists by Richards to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead and, after blue-liner Sergei Gonchar got Pittsburgh on the board midway through the second period, the 26-year-old center netted a goal of his own 91 seconds into the third to restore the three-goal bulge.

"We got the momentum, and from there, we just took charge of the game," Richards said. "It's tough to shut us down for a long spell."

Lecavalier capped the scoring later in the session with a shorthander and Eric Perrin and Ruslan Fedotenko added two assists apiece for the Lightning, who extended their winning streak against the Penguins to 12 games.

"They've matched up well with us, for some reason, over the last couple of years," Gonchar said. "But that doesn't matter as much as just us not being ready to play hockey."

"I thought we played, right on through, a pretty solid game," said Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella, who notched his 200th win with the team. "That was one of our better games all the way through the night."

Sidney Crosby recorded his league-high 97th point with an assist for Pittsburgh, which has not beaten Tampa Bay since January 17, 2003.

"I thought the Lightning played with a lot of pressure and they had guys that can bury the puck when they get the chances," Crosby said. "We got behind, and it's hard to recover against them when you get behind."

"Simply, that was our worst game of the year," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, whose team is fifth in the Eastern Conference with 75 points. "That was our worst performance. ... We were not prepared physically and mentally. It's frustrating because you have to be ready at this time of the year."

After St. Louis scored his fifth goal in as many contests on the power play 2:17 into the first period, Ranger found a loose puck in the slot and backhanded it past goaltender Jocelyn Thibault 99 seconds later for a 2-0 lead.

"Anytime you go up against an offense like that, you want to answer," St. Louis said. "We got out to the quick start we wanted and made their offense play catch-up."

"You never want to get down that quickly on the road," said Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed two goals on nine shots in relief of Thibault. "We've been a team that has shown a lot of resiliency, but you've got to want it to show it. We just had no life, and that can't happen at this time of the year. We had no energy from the start."

Kuba beat Thibault to the short side with a wrist shot at 4:58 of the second for his career-high 10th goal and second in two games, chasing the goalie, who yielded three tallies on just 15 shots.

Gonchar fired a slap shot from the high slot past netminder Johan Holmqvist during a 5-on-3 advantage at 8:26, but Richards scored on a one-timer off a return pass from Perrin early in the third for his 22nd of the season and a 4-1 cushion.

Lecavalier capped the scoring with his 21st career tally against Pittsburgh, his highest total vs. any club.

"They have a lot of offensive talent and you can't sit back against them," Richards said. "But we've proven that we have our own weapons, and everyone can't just concentrate on one line or one guy."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 1 0 1
    TAMPA BAY 2 1 2 5 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - (PP) MARTIN ST. LOUIS 38 (DAN BOYLE, BRAD RICHARDS)
    2:17
    TAM - PAUL RANGER 4 (ERIC PERRIN, BRAD RICHARDS) 3:56
    2ND PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 10 (BRAD RICHARDS, RUSLAN FEDOTENKO) 4:58
    PIT - (PP) SERGEI GONCHAR 10 (E

    Feb 25 7:32 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 1
    TAMPA BAY 5
    3RD PRD: TAM - (SH) VINCENT LECAVALIER 41 (MARTIN ST. LOUIS) 14:16

    Penguins vs. LightningFeb 25 7:23 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 1
    TAMPA BAY 4
    3RD PRD: TAM - BRAD RICHARDS 22 (ERIC PERRIN, RUSLAN FEDOTENKO) 1:31

    Penguins vs. LightningFeb 25 7:00 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 1 1
    TAMPA BAY 2 1 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - (PP) MARTIN ST. LOUIS 38 (DAN BOYLE, BRAD RICHARDS)
    2:17
    TAM - PAUL RANGER 4 (ERIC PERRIN, BRAD RICHARDS) 3:56
    2ND PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 10 (BRAD RICHARDS, RUSLAN FEDOTENKO) 4:58
    PIT - (PP) SERGEI

    Feb 25 6:39 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 1
    TAMPA BAY 3
    2ND PRD: PIT - (PP) SERGEI GONCHAR 10 (EVGENI MALKIN, SIDNEY CROSBY)
    8:26 (TWO-MAN ADVANTAGE)

    Penguins vs. LightningFeb 25 6:23 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 0
    TAMPA BAY 3
    2ND PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 10 (BRAD RICHARDS, RUSLAN FEDOTENKO) 4:58

    Penguins vs. LightningFeb 25 6:14 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 0
    TAMPA BAY 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - (PP) MARTIN ST. LOUIS 38 (DAN BOYLE, BRAD RICHARDS)
    2:17
    TAM - PAUL RANGER 4 (ERIC PERRIN, BRAD RICHARDS) 3:56
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 4

    Feb 25 5:49 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 0
    TAMPA BAY 2
    1ST PRD: TAM - PAUL RANGER 4 (UNASSISTED) 3:56

    Penguins vs. LightningFeb 25 5:17 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 0
    TAMPA BAY 1
    1ST PRD: TAM - (PP) MARTIN ST. LOUIS 38 (DAN BOYLE, BRAD RICHARDS)
    2:17

    Penguins vs. LightningFeb 25 5:16 PM