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Tampa Bay sends a message

LIGHTNING 5, BRUINS 2: Dan Boyle scores twice and Nikolai Khabibulin bounces back.

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003


photo
[AP photo]
Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle, right, celebrates with teammate Vinny Prospal after scoring one of his two goals in the third period.
TAMPA -- Nikolai Khabibulin, the Lightning's All-Star goalie, finally got back on track, giving the Lightning its first victory since the All-Star break and an emotional charge with his personal comeback from frustration.

Khabibulin, despite giving up a soft third-period goal that allowed Boston to tie it at 2, was otherwise spectacular, facing 32 shots. And his teammates turned on the offense to beat the Bruins 5-2 Saturday night before 19,934 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"I thought the boys rallied behind him, that's what I like," coach John Tortorella said. "He wanted that (bad goal) back, obviously ... but I think the guys sent a message."

Khabibulin ended a 10-game winless streak thanks to the Lightning's three-goal burst in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

"It's good to bounce back as a team and get the win for him," Brad Richards said.

Vinny Lecavalier, who gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 3:24 to play in the second period, called Zdenek Kutlak's goal for Boston 2:37 into the third "just bad luck." Kutlak took a soft shot from the left point and Khabibulin reacted late, allowing it to deflect off his glove.

When he stopped a puck rolling slowly on goal a minute later, the crowd gave him a sarcastic cheer.

But before and after that Khabibulin made some spectacular saves.

"(Khabibulin) played a great game," Lecavalier said. "He made a lot of key saves. And we didn't give up. We have that mentality now that every second of the game is important, whether you're down 3-0 or tied or whatever. We can come back and win those games."

Dan Boyle had two goals in the third period, the tiebreaker with 5:27 left and an empty-net goal with 52 seconds to play after Ben Clymer, ending a 25-game goal-scoring drought, made it 4-2 off a perfect pass from Vinny Prospal.

"Everybody's been pulling for (Khabibulin)," Boyle said. "He's probably not too happy with the results lately but he made huge, huge stops."

With the Lightning buzzing around Bruins goalie Steve Shields, Nikita Alexeev passed to Boyle, who found the right side open.

With 3:19 left, Clymer scored after Lecavalier and Prospal broke in on a two-on-one. Prospal found a trailing Clymer open on the left side and he scored before Shields could get across the crease.

Boyle's second goal gave him a career-high 10 for the season and the second two-goal game of his career.

Tampa Bay capitalized with 16 seconds left on a double-minor penalty to Krzysztof Oliwa for boarding Alexander Svitov and throwing a punch in the aftermath, when Nikita Alexeev scored his third goal on a heads-up play by Lecavalier.

Richards brought the puck through center ice and passed to Lecavalier on the right wing. As he crossed the blue line he saw two Bruins converging on him and slid the puck to Alexeev, who put it off the post and past Shields.

It took the Bruins 1:31 to tie it. Pavel Kubina gave up the puck to Marty McInnis behind the Lightning goal. He passed to Nicholas Boynton at the right point. Boynton sent a pass to Sean Brown, who took a shot, and Jozef Stumpel tipped it past Khabibulin at 7:48.

Lecavalier, ending an eight-game goal-scoring slump, put the Lightning ahead 2-1 with 3:24 left in the second with a blistering slap shot from the high slot for his 22nd.


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