© St. Petersburg Times, published December 16, 2002
TAMPA -- A lot goes through a player's mind in the milliseconds before a shot. Extra time sometimes complicates the issue.
Midway through the first period of a 4-3 win over the Islanders on Saturday, center Vinny Lecavalier broke in against goaltender Garth Snow and waited until the final instant to unsuccessfully lift the puck backhanded. Snow stood firm and made the save.
Minutes later, Lecavalier tried the same approach in traffic near the crease and was stopped, but he followed the shot into the net as he was pushed to the ice.
"The first one, I did not make a move at all," Lecavalier said. "I wasn't real happy after that one. Usually, I try and make a move a lot more and try to get the open net after I deke him. But he's a good goalie. He stood there both times.
"The second time, I thought I'd try the same move, thinking he wouldn't think I'd have the same move again. But he did, and I got pretty lucky. I think he might have put it in himself."
Lecavalier used more stick-handling to get Snow out of position at 1:17 of the second when he skated in with gassed defenseman Kenny Jonsson and scored a short-hander for a 3-0 lead.
HOW ABOUT THAT: Defenseman Cory Sarich was in a similar situation in the first 12 seconds of the game on Saturday. Moments after the opening faceoff, center Brad Richards zinged a pass to Sarich at the blue line, and Sarich found a seam between a wing and defenseman and beat Snow for the third goal of his 239-game NHL career.
"Guys were screaming 'skate, skate' and 'shoot, shoot,' " Sarich said. "I saw a nice little piece of net over there on the right side below the blocker. I actually hit the spot I was shooting for, just above the pad, and (it went) off the post and in. Usually, when I hit the post, for me, it doesn't go in."
FIGHT NIGHT: Islanders tough guy Eric Cairns did his job by cooling Lecavalier in the penalty box four minutes after Lecavalier scored his second goal. At the time, Lecavalier was in no position to contemplate taking double minors for roughing.
"He's a pretty big man," Lecavalier said of the 6-foot-6, 232-pound Cairns. "I was protecting myself. When he hit me over the head it felt like he hit me with a brick."
BOILING: With two assists on Saturday, defenseman Dan Boyle set a career high with 20. He had 18 in 2000-01 with Florida and equaled that last season with the Panthers and Lightning. In 31 games this season, he has tied a career-high in points (26), matching his output in 66 games last season.
MORE HELP: After Saturday night, Richards led the NHL with 42 assists since the 2002 Olympic break. Center Vinny Prospal, Pittsburgh's Alexei Kovalev and Mario Lemieux and Los Angeles' Jason Allison were tied with 41.