Tie goes to Tampa

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET


 CALGARY -- When Brad Richards was a kid in Murray Harbour, P.E.I., he was like any other Canadian kid growing up dreaming of one day scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 "One," he said.

 Not seven.

 Seven Stanley Cup winning goals should have had Richards over the moon. But Richards was strangely sober about it after the Lightning sobered Calgary with a painfully boring 1-nil win in Game 4 to equal the series at 2-2.

 It was bad enough that the game was a bore. But did the hero have to turn out to be one, too?

 "I don't know, I'd rather not talk about the game-winners anymore," said Richards.

 Come on. Work with us here. This one set a Stanley Cup record. The kid Wayne Gretzky picked to play for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey should have been able to understand why we were asking.

 "I understand," he said "But I've answered it a lot. It's great to score goals, but your team has to shut them down.

 "It's not like I scored seven in a row in overtime. Some of them were scored in the first period, some in the second period and some in the third period.

 "I have no control over whether it is a game winner or not," he said. "I think it was just a big goal to get it on a 5-on-3. If they kill that off, it might be a different game."

 It was a combination of paint-by-numbers, and watching-paint dry - or listening to paint dry in the case of Richards after the game.

 Richards led the way when it came to the numbers.

 Tampa Bay is now 30-0-2 this season when Richards scores. The Lightning are now 8-0 when he scores in the playoffs.

 First team to one wins. Except, in this one, there was only one.

 Another number was the Lightning and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin going to 6-0 following a loss, outscoring the opposition 18-5. Khabibulin moved into a tie with Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff with his fifth shutout this post-season.

 The win left Calgary at 12-1 and Tampa Bay at 12-2 this Stanley season when scoring first.

 This one was over at 2:48 of the first period.

 Referees Kerry Fraser and Brad Watson fingered Chris Clark and Mike Commodore for crosschecking and holding respectively, providing Tampa Bay with a two-man-powerplay. And while Kiprusoff made a sensational save off Dave Andreychuk early, the talented Tampa team threw the puck around until Richards was put in position to wire one.

 That was the game.

 Richards, who scored the winner for Tampa in Game 2, could have scored the first goal of Game 3 but was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway by Kiprusoff.

 "The other night he did make a great save," said Richards. "I thought, I really did think, that I had scored. That could have changed that game. I knew tonight that whether it was me or somebody else on the power play, we had to score on that situation. When they gave me that shot almost inside the top of the circle in the wheelhouse ... you have to try do something with it. There was a lane on the glove side and I just shot it there."

 Sutter found it frustrating, the way it all worked out.

 "The only goal is scored two minutes in on a 5-on-3," he said. "What is a penalty on the second shift, is not a penalty in the first shift - a penalty in the second shift, not in the third period. Whatever. It's the first goal and then defend. They did a good job of it. It's the same thing we do.

 "The thing is we had the chances. in the second period we had great chances and missed the net. That's what it is about a one-goal game."

 The Flames, for the first time in the series, won the battles in the faceoff circle (61%) but it meant nothing. Literally, nothing.

 "Funny because we were so good everywhere except getting the 5-on-3 called on us."

 It was a penalty at the end of the game which also cost Calgary even though nothing else ended up in the net.

 With 4:13 remaining, Ville Nieminen one handed Vinnie Lecavalier face-first into the glass, popping his helmet and leaving him unsure what day of the week it was and in which town he was appearing.

 If Nieminen doesn't get suspended - and it says here he should get a game - somebody should whisper he's targeting the wrong guy. It's No. 19 doing it. Richards.

 When all was said and done it was a painful game to watch, even if you were the guy behind the Tampa Bay bench.

 "It was ugly as hell but we found a way," said John Tortorella. "It was real ugly at times for both teams."


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