Guts and bolts

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:03 PM ET


 TAMPA -- Vincent Lecavalier started the offensive outburst.

 Teammate Brad Richards joined him to ensure there would be more than enough goals to finish the job.

 With the Tampa Bay Lightning in need of a spark to even the Stanley Cup final at a game apiece, the dynamic duo -- whose history dates back to their teenage years at Notre Dame College in Saskatchewan -- provided one heck of a lethal one-two punch as Tampa Bay downed the Flames 4-1 last night before the sellout crowd of 22,222 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

 Lecavalier was instrumental in starting the scoring parade -- first with a couple of solid hits and then with a pretty play -- and Richards was the catalyst for the third-period offensive outburst that sealed the deal for the Lightning.

 "It's not the moves that I thought was the important part of Vinny's game tonight," said Lightning head coach John Tortorella.

 "I thought his presence was the most important thing.

 "He showed a physical presence."

 The loss snapped Calgary's five-game playoff road winning streak.

 The best-of-seven series will resume tomorrow night when the Sea of Red is unveiled for its first final-series action since Calgary's championship run in 1989.

 Looking to make amends for what they believed to be a sub-standard series-opener, the Lightning came out in full force, looking to strike early last night.

 Lecavalier set the tone with the physical actions that make him a complete package and then made the nifty play -- the old bounce-the-puck-off-the-back-of-the-net trick to elude a defender -- to set the wheels in motion for Ruslan Fedotenko's first-period tally.

 It's the first time since Game 4 of the Detroit series Calgary has allowed a goal in the opening frame -- a span of 10 tilts.

 Thanks to netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames actually remained in the hunt until early in the third period.

 En route to a 27-save performance, Kiprusoff even held the fort during a five-on-three less than a minute into the final frame but it was just a matter of time before Richards finished the job.

 He first scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, his record-tying sixth of this post-season, then set up Dan Boyle's insurance marker 1:07 later.

 Not to be outdone by his good buddy, Lecavalier netted his second assist when he set up Martin St. Louis' second goal in as many games during a second Lightning five-on-three powerplay.

 Calgary's Ville Nieminen broke Nikolai Khabibulin's shutout bid with seven minutes remaining, slapping home a powerplay goal Calgary desperately needed in the first period -- but it was nowhere near enough at the end.

 Khabibulin rebounded from a 4-1 Game 1 loss with an 18-save night.

 "We've got to be honest with ourselves, they beat us tonight," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

 "They were more intense, they were more desperate, they beat us to loose pucks and were more physical.

 "Every one of their guys beat pretty much all of us and that doesn't feel good.

 "They beat us at our game."

 The Flames had ample opportunity to take control early in the evening but failed to convert on four first-period powerplay chances.

 "We let them take it to us," said defenceman Rhett Warrener. "We got back on our heels, they controlled the tempo and got all the momentum.

 "It would have been nice to score on those early powerplays -- that could have helped and changed things.

 "But when you don't score, you've got to battle through it."

 Added Flames GM-head coach Darryl Sutter: "You knew they were going to come out hard and they did. I thought Lecavalier, especially Lecavalier, and their defence dominated the first part of the game.

 "I think that (Lecavalier) followed Jarome's lead from the other night."


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