Big guns answer the bell

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:04 PM ET

 The Tampa Bay Lightning turned to its star players in last night's 3-2 overtime victory in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

 And they don't get much brighter than forwards Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin -- the respective overtime hero, two-goal sniper and outstanding 'tender for the Lightning in last night's must-win at the Saddledome.

  Still, the Lightning considered it a total team triumph last night to force Game 7 Monday in Tampa.

 "To a man, we had a great effort," said Lightning winger Chris Dingman, a onetime Calgary Flame. "Khabibulin was just spectacular. Marty came up just huge for us. But we got everybody going."

 Tampa's fourth line, consisting of Dingman, Ben Clymer and Martin Cibak, became a bright fixture for the Lightning three games ago and have shone since.

 While the unheralded trio wasn't generating much in the way of scoring chances last night, they kept the Flames hemmed in their own zone with a superb cycle down low around goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

 "Those two guys are hungry," said Dingman of his linemates. "We're just all on the same page. It was just about keeping it simple. If you don't score, you just keep trying to hang onto the puck -- which we did."

 "The energy that they have brought into our lineup is important," added Lightning veteran Dave Andreychuk. "They throw them out there and they have good speed and good puck possession down low. Obviously, they have done a great job for us. They really added some momentum in games. It's carried on through the rest of our lines."

 In fact, Lightning head coach John Tortorella considered Dingman's line the best of his units in the Game 5 loss to the Flames Thursday night in Tampa.

 Last night, the trio proved to be just one piece of the winning puzzle. The Lightning was offered plenty more from all its players.

 Defensively, the visitors blocked and thwarted a lot of chances aimed at their net by getting in front of Flames chances. They also refused to give up many odd-man rushes like they did in a Game 5.

 But when they did allow the Flames to get in tight last night, Khabibulin put up a wall, making enough stellar saves -- 31 in total -- to get the nod as one of the key differences in the contest.

 Most of all, the Lightning felt it got the kind of physical play that has paved the way to this Stanley Cup final.

 "We just played Tampa Bay Lightning hockey," said defenceman Dan Boyle. "We've learned our lesson in this series. When we don't play physical hockey, we don't win."

 And they can certainly say the same if their stars don't come to play.

 "Obviously the Dingman line played well, and we need that," said St. Louis. "But it comes down to your best players getting it done offensively and I thought we did that (last night)."


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