Friday, May 28, 2004

Lightning Strike!

Give as good as you get, that could have been the mantra the Tampa Bay Lightning used, as they took on the Calgary Flames Thursday night in game two of their best of seven Stanley Cup Final. Having been outscored 4-1 in game one, the Lightning reversed fortunes with a similar score but a different team on the winning end, as the Bolts tied up the series 1-1 with game three heading to Calgary on Saturday night.

The big players on the Bolts rose to the occasion on Thursday night as they found success against a Calgary squad that got off of its game plan. Vincent Lecavalier took advantage of Wayne Gretzky’s audience to show his skills and plant the seed in Gretzky’s mind about any roster requirements for the World Cup. Lecavalier played a more physical game and scored a showcase goal to help his Lightning team put the bad vibes of game one behind them. Brad Richards followed up Lecavalier’s lead with a goal in the second period to give the Bolts a 2-0 lead. Dan Boyle scored the third goal of the game 1 minute later with a power play marker, the Lightning’s final goal of the game came a minute later when Martin St. Louis put the game away for good. Ville Niemenen scored the lone Flame goal with seven minutes to go in the third, breaking the shut out bid by Nikolai Khabibulin. The Flames were outshot 31-19 in the game, testimony to the tighter checking provided by the Bolts in this game.

The game ended with a few dust ups on the ice, but nothing serious developed and both teams can now prepare for game three in Calgary. Trading off goals and styles in games one and two, it should be interesting to see how the teams react to exuberance of the Calgary crowd. The Flames earned a split on the road, which is what you want to do in the Stanley Cup playoffs, up next is control of flow of the game on the Saddledome ice, if they can recover the defensive approach that got them this far, they should find the Flames ready to reprise their effort from game number one.

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