Tampa tantrum

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:07 PM ET


 TAMPA -- First, Martin St. Louis made good on his promise he'd be better in Game 2.

 Then, he promised things between his Lightning and the Calgary Flames were about to get ugly.

 "We don't play them very much so it's not like we had a lot of hate for this team ... " started St. Louis, before adding the spicy kicker.

 "But after tonight we do. I really think to win in the playoffs you have to hate the other team."

 That became evident, oddly enough, right after the Flames allowed two goals in the first four minutes of the third to make the score 3-0. It kick-started the fireworks to which the Flames are accustomed to whenever they lose.

 "It all depends on how you lose," said St. Louis, trying to explain Calgary's aggression. "When a game is tight, things stay calm. When a game is over in the first three or four minutes of the third, you start whacking."

 With that in mind, St. Louis set a personal record with five slashes in one shift, outdone only by Andrew Ference when he fed Cory Stillman twice as many right hands in a rare bout for the pair.

 It was clearly in response to the former Flame's vicious elbow on Ville Nieminen's skull two nights earlier but when asked why he fought, Ference laughed.

 "Because I play hockey," he shrugged.

 "I'm a hockey player. That's what I do."

 When pressed for more, he was accommodating.

 "They're trying to take the Cup away from us," he said.

 "We're a team that takes a lot of pride in what we do and we wanted them to know they played a game."

 They sure did.

 In a brilliant counter to Calgary's opening salvo Tuesday, the Lightning fed off a powerful first shift by Vincent Lecavalier and rode its three superstars to a shockingly easy 4-1 win.

 By night's end, Lecavalier had two assists, while both St. Louis and Brad Richards had a goal and a helper.

 Beating the Flames at their own game, the Lightning played with a heightened intensity: The hosts hit everything that moved. Hammering two Flames in the opening shift before being robbed by Miikka Kiprusoff in close 40 seconds into the night, Lecavalier put on a clinic, featuring a move that will have the hockey world talking for some time.

 Pursued behind the net by Stephane Yelle, the Lightning's lanky assistant captain used a backhand to pass the puck to himself and escape a check. He eventually fed the puck to Jassen Cullimore at the point, who blasted it toward the net. Ruslan Fedotenko finally whacked the puck past Kiprusoff, giving Tampa a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the contest.

 Carrying the play the next two periods, the Lightning broke it open in the third when Brad Richards converted a five-on-three powerplay and Dan Boyle hammered the nail in the Flames' coffin.

 Cue the fireworks.

 "I guess you kind of have to do that on their side but it doesn't make a lot of sense," said Cullimore of the late scrums and the odd fight that punctuated the evening.

 "They're picking on our skilled players. It's a long series and I guess they're thinking of somehow they can take a guy off his game or get him injured, I don't know."

 By now, the entire hockey world should know there shouldn't be a reason for the Flames to finish a loss with fisticuffs. Still, some Flames explained Andre Roy took his beating from Chris Simon for allegedly slew-footing Kiprusoff.

 "There were a couple fights -- just the result of a couple guys not enjoying the score," said Jarome Iginla, who was involved in a couple scrums at game's end.

 "They don't like us and we don't like them much. Now we've got a series."

 Indeed, we do.


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