Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bolts Rally, Spoil Richards Return

By JC De La Torre

Vincent Lecavalier wasn't about to allow his bud Brad Richards get the last laugh. Lecavalier scored twice (including the eventual game winner) and added an assist to rally the Lightning past the Dallas Stars 4-2. It was also the first time Tampa Bay has beaten Dallas in Tampa Bay since 1996.

The game marked Brad Richards return to the place he started his NHL career and won the Stanley Cup. Lecavalier opened the scoring just 1:33 into the game with a short handed goal. 20 seconds later, Richards answered on the power play to tie the game at 1. It would stay 1-1 until the 4:19 when Richards assisted on a goal by Loui Eriksson to give the Stars the lead.

Tampa Bay tied the game midway through the third by converting a Dallas turnover in their own zone into Steven Stamkos' blast from the low slot. At 14:54 of the third, Lecavalier rocketed a blast past Stars goalie Marty Turco that seemed to sizzle the net, put the Lightning in the lead and left his teammates and coach talking.

"That was a goal in any league," Lightning and former Stars Goaltender Mike Smith told the St. Petersburg Times.

"Not many guys in the league can score goals like that," coach Rick Tocchet added, "That was a special goal."

Lecavalier would assist on Vaclav Prospal's empty net goal to provide the final margin.

Tampa Bay improved to 15-21-10 and now are only 10 points out of a playoff spot. Tampa Bay lost the services of Evgeny Artyukhin, who was suspended for two games by the NHL for a knee-to-knee hit on Florida's Ville Peltonen.

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