Sunday, April 25, 2004

Lecavalier shines on La Soiree du Hockey

For the second game in a row Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier showed the folks back home how well he’s progressed since joining the pros. The native of Montreal scored two goals on the team from his hometown Sunday afternoon, leading his Lightning teammates to a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens. The win gives the Bolts a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series that returns to Montreal on Tuesday night.

For Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis it’s a chance to shine in front of the province that gave them their start. Playing for Tampa can result in a low profile as the two Quebecers toil in relative anonymity in the regular season, this playoff round against the Habs is a form of a coming out party for them. And Lecavalier is making the most of his featured time on Canadian television.

The Canadiens provided a much better effort than game one, but in the end they couldn’t control Lecavalier, nor could they beat Nickolai Khabibulan when they needed to. Lecavalier scored the opening goal of the game at the 2:35 mark of the first, a power play goal while Michael Ryder was serving a roughing penalty. Frederik Modin followed up with a goal six minutes later. Saku Koivu scored the Canadiens only goal in the first period, when he brought the Habs to within one goal of the Lightning at 16:40. Both teams traded off opportunities in the second with Lecavalier getting the insurance marker, on another power play goal with only 3 seconds to go in the period, it gave the Lighting a 3-1 lead which is how the game ended. Both teams played hard in the third, but Khabibulan and Theodore both held the offense off the board.

Montreal find themselves in a familiar position trailing a series 2 games to 0, setting up Game three as a very important match. A Tampa Bay win would give them the momentum to put the series to an end. The Bolts don’t look like a team that will be lose 4 games in a row. With Lecavalier and Martin finding their range in the playoffs and Khabibulan able to shut teams down, Tampa can feel confident heading into the next game. If Montreal can find a way to keep the folks at La Soiree from mentioning the name Lecavalier they should have a chance to claw back into the series. If you see Vince smiling at the end of game three, you’ll know that the Bolts are one step closer to the Stanley Cup finals.

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