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By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 20, 2003

I want to stay, Roy says

Left wing Andre Roy spoke publicly for the first time since not traveling to Washington for Games 3 and 4 of the East quarterfinals, and said he wants to remain with the Lightning.

"They said they want me here, that they like me and they want to have me here," Roy said. "I want to stay here, too. I want to be part of this."

Roy was benched in the first period of Game 2 after he took an ill-advised, post-whistle roughing penalty and then beefed with referee Kerry Fraser after the Capitals power-play goal.

Roy, under orders to keep his emotions in check and not to take bad penalties, got a tongue-lashing from coach John Tortorella, was banished to the locker room for the rest of the game and told to stay home during the road trip.

"Everything can be cleared up if you sit down and discuss what has to be done," Roy said. "But right now it's the playoffs so we'll wait till the season is probably over to discuss next year. But I think John wants me to be part of this. It's just a matter of sitting down and discussing it."

Though Tortorella always is reluctant to break up a winning lineup, Roy is not ruling out playing again this season.

"Obviously, I want to be part of it," he said. "I know what I can bring. I know what I can do. It's tough. I just have to wait and see for an opportunity."

Richards struggling

"I need an open net," he said. "And even that might not help."

The center has no goals and one assist in five games, and that is disappointing for a player who had 17 goals, 57 assists in the regular season. Particularly frustrating for him were two point-blank shots Friday in Game 5 with it tied at 1 in the third that he could not get past Washington goaltender Olaf Kolzig.

"I just have to keep plugging away," said Richards, who has 17 shots. "Obviously, it's very frustrating. Thank God we're winning and I get another chance (today)."

Richards still has played a huge role. His line, along with right wing Dave Andreychuk and left wing Fredrik Modin, has done an admirable job helping to check Jaromir Jagr's line. But that is not enough for a player who had his first 70-point season.

"He wants to be a guy who's part of the offensive push," Andreychuk said. "I talked to him and reminded him to make sure you do the things you have to do on the ice, the little things that are going to help us win."

For Richards, that means getting a goal, at least now and then.

"Every morning I just try to forget about it and start over," he said.

Another post-whistle penalty

Tortorella said Lukowich's response was admirable -- "His heart was in the right place" -- but said the penalty was a bad one.

"I think Marty can take care of himself, and that's all part of playoff hockey," the coach said. "If he gets smacked around, Marty is tough enough to handle it. I just don't think we can put ourselves in that situation. ... If it does get ugly, that's when you jump in."

Tampa Bay killed the penalty to start the second and preserved a 1-0 lead.

"I've played vs. Grier. He's a hard-nosed guy," Lukowich said. "For him to go down on a play like that, you've got to give him credit. He's doing what he has to do to win."

Fantastic faceoffs

Entering Saturday, Lightning center Tim Taylor led the playoffs with a 67.85 winning percentage, including 8-of-11 in Game 5 and 38-of-56 overall.

"Just getting into a groove again," he said. "It's one of those things where you feel you're back to where you were. It's taken me a year."

A record pace?

St. Louis' eight points are three off the league record in a series by first-time playoff performers. John MacLean had 11 for the Devils in 1988 against the Islanders. Mark Recchi had 11 for the Penguins in 1991 against the Devils.

Learning by doing

He likely will not get into a game, and he doesn't always skate during practice. But Lightning third-string goalie Brian Eklund is loving his playoff experience.

"Every day I'm out there I'm learning more on how to play and succeed on this level," he said.

Eklund, 22, spent most of the season with ECHL Pensacola. He was promoted to AHL Springfield for the Falcons' final regular-season game after Tampa Bay prospect Evgeny Konstantinov sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Eklund had 37 saves in a 2-1 victory over Worcester. He was called up to Tampa Bay to be a practice goalie if Nikolai Khabibulin needs a day off.

"It's quite an experience to be around," Eklund said of the playoffs. "To see what it takes and what these guys are preparing for and as much a grind as it is."


The creature from the blue line

Lightning defenseman Jassen Cullimore looked like something out of a Saturday afternoon Creature Feature movie. Uh, he would've playing the part of the creature.

His lower lip looked like a rotten banana. His chin was a gruesome red-black-blue-green mix. A front tooth was chipped. And the lower part of his face looked like a road map, courtesy of 84 stitches that zig-zagged around his mouth.

All this was the result of going face first into the boards near the end of Game5 after bumping with the Caps' Dainius Zubrus.

He's a hockey player. And this is the postseason. So, of course, he said he will be in uniform for today's Game6.

"It's all right," Cullimore said. "Not too bad. ... I'll wear a chin protector."

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