Cup Final All Squared 

Three 3rd Period Goals Break Open Tight Game 

May 27th, 2004

It was a pivotal game where Tampa desperately needed its big boys to step to the plate.

Unfortunately for the Calgary Flames, that's exactly what happened.

Vincent Lecavalier delivered a huge physical presence as well as two assists while blowout goals from Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis in a 3:07 span in the third period had the Lightning punching out the lights of the punchless Flames 4-1 in front of 22,222 delirious fans in Tampa Bay.

Calgary was down 1-0 early in the game on a Ruslan Fedotenko goal, Lecavalier beating Stephane Yelle out from behind the net and the puck eventually finding its way behind Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff at 7:10 of the first period.

"He (Lecavalier) made a great play on the first goal . . . . on our best checking centre," said Calgary coach Darryl Sutter after the game. "I think he followed Jarome's lead from the other night."

It was Iginla delivering a tour de force performance in game one in leading Calgary to a 4-1 victory but Lecavalier clearly came to play a big time role from the opening faceoffm inspiring Tampa on this night.

Sutter was even more blunt.

"Our workers worked but we had some skill players who weren't as effective as their skill players," said Sutter of the opening period, a comment that probably reflected the balance of the game.

The loss evened the Stanley Cup final series at 1-1, the Flames heading back to Calgary with home ice advantage for the fourth consecutive series but knowing they're only 4-5 at the Saddledome this post-season, a trend that likely has to change at some point if they hope to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Now's the time to dominate home ice.

In an intense, hard fought affair that was in doubt into the third period, Calgary's mediocre power play finally did them in, Flames generating only three shots on its first six extra man advantages with the game still easily within reach.

Moreso than the sudden blowout by Tampa, the failure of the Calgary powerplay to give the Lightning something to think about earlier set the stage for defeat later.

It was all the invitation Tampa needed with Richards ringing a loose puck off the inside of the post and past Kiprusoff at 2:51 of the third period to push the Lightning into a 2-0 lead.

Calgary collapsed from there, Boyle pinching in from the point to one time a cross ice pass behind Kiprusoff only 1:09 later and St. Louis finishing off a tic tac toe pass with Lecavalier at 5:58 to complete the rout.

In truth, Tampa found the legs that were missing in the first game of this series, although the Flames seemed to be pressing Tampa through much of the second period.

Then the ceiling fell in.

From there the "hate" level of this series elevated itself considerably, Andrew Ference using Cory Stillman's head as a punching bag with several other tilts filling the clock before a scrum at the final whistle concluded a game that was well out of reach a little too soon.

In the end, Calgary finished with 64 minutes in penalties and 60 for the Lightning.

Ville Nieminen scored a fairly meaningless powerplay goal for the Flames after the game was well out of reach, catching Nik Khabibulin high on the short side at 12:21.

Still, many Flames felt the game was largely evenly played.

"It's always a disappointment when you lose," said a non-plussed Marcus Nilson on FAN960 afterwards. "It was a tight game, 1-0 going into the third. We got the bounces in the first game and they got the bounces tonight."

"The scores are bigger than the look of the game, this one and the last one," said Nilson.

Sutter agreed.

"The shots were from the outside for the most part aside from three or four plays," he said, adding he had no qualms with the game turned in by Kiprusoff.

Was that the right read to take from this game? Probably, except the Lightning demonstrated Calgary is going to have to do more than hang in and wait for their opportunities.

Tampa had a five on three advantage three times in this game and nine power plays in total, scoring once, ratcheting up their shot total to 31 on a busy night for Kiprusoff, the latter not at fault on any of the Lightning goals.

On a more positive note, Kiprusoff is 4-0 in this playoff season with a .947 save percentage and a 1.33 goals against average in performances after giving up four or more goals.





1 Vincent Lecavalier - The 6'4" baby face played with a mean streak and a ton of skill. A dominant presence from the opening shift. 

2 Brad Richards - Missing in action in game one, the opportunistic winger had several point blank chances before finally scoring the decisive marker with a wicked shot in the third period. 

3 Martin St. Louis - Plastered into the wall heavily late in the third period, the feisty winger nevertheless delivered a two point night.

Richards broke up the middle on a Calgary power play, bearing in on Kiprusoff with a pair of Calgary defencemen trailing in vain, but the Tampa forward lifted a wrist shot off the glove of the flames netminder just as he was about to be pokechecked.

With 12 minutes gone in the second period, Lecavalier caught gigantic Chris Simon with his head down, the Tampa centre pounding the menacing Flames winger with ease.

Flames failed to tie an NHL record with their 10th road win of this playoff year, now 9-3 away from Calgary.Strangely, both teams are now 11- 2 in this playoff season when scoring the first goal in the game. . . . . . "If Darryl wants me to dress up in a skirt, grab some pom-poms and go up into the stands to cheer, I'll do it," Mike Commodore told after Game 1. Commodore logged 7:03 in ice time in game two. . . . . Tampa won 65% of their faceoffs in the opening period, including 80% in their own zone, finally settling at 67% overall on the night. Lecavalier and Richards were 75% and 71% for the Lightning. Yelle led the Flames at 52% but Conroy and Nilson were an unbelievable 26% each for Calgary, likely their worst performances in the circle this season......... Attention Don Cherry. That was Pavel Kubina, a European, taunting Chuck Kobasew, a Canadian, for the latter wearing a face shield at things tensed in the final minute of the game. . . . . . Sutter is clearly enamoured with Andrew Ference, the Calgary defenceman for the second game in a row logging astronomical ice time compared to his peers, finishing with 25:02 and limited from more by his fight with Stillman. Richards was 22:54 for the Lightning. . . . . Dave Andreychuk led Tampa with five shots, Nieminen pacing the Flames with four.

Gelinas Conroy Iginla 
Nieminen Nilson Donovan 
Simon Yelle Clark 
Lowry Kobasew Saprykin

Regehr Montador 
Ference Commodore 
Warrener Leopold

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