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St. Louis clinches crown

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published April 5, 2004

Martin St. Louis wasn't watching Sunday when the Avalanche faced the Predators. The Lightning right wing, whose only remaining pursuer for the NHL scoring title was Colorado's Joe Sakic, was playing in a team golf outing.

Not to worry, St. Louis' father kept providing regular updates via cell phone.

When Sakic did not get a point, it was official: St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy with 94 points, seven ahead of Sakic and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk.

"It's an honor and it feels good," St. Louis said. "I'm happy I finished strong and gave myself a chance. Obviously, I couldn't have done it without my teammates. No one does anything alone. My teammates helped me out and I owe it to them."

St. Louis finished the season with 38 goals and 56 assists, which tied New Jersey's Scott Gomez for the league lead. His plus-35 tied Vancouver's Marek Malik for the lead and he was tops with eight short-handed goals and 11 short-handed points. But it was the scoring title that was most notable because it could be a springboard to the Hart Trophy, the MVP award given by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the Pearson, the MVP award given by the Players Association.

St. Louis also could win the Selke as the league's top defensive forward.

He knows his numbers do not matter in the playoffs, which begin Thursday against the Islanders at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"When you accomplish something like this, they expect things of you, of course," St. Louis said. "But I would push myself and try to deliver the best I can whether I won the scoring title or not. I don't think I would come into the playoffs with a different frame of mind."

Still, St. Louis joked, there was time to celebrate.

"I'm very proud of what I did and what we did as a team," he said. "Maybe I'll have some burgers and some Pepsis."

MORE STATS: Left wing Cory Stillman finished third in the league with 55 assists. Center Brad Richards was sixth with 53.

Left wing Fredrik Modin was fourth at plus-31. Defenseman Brad Lukowich was tied for seventh at plus-29. Pavel Kubina's 17 goals tied for the lead among defensemen with Ottawa's Wade Redden.

LIGHTNING VS. ISLANDERS

FIRST ROUND (Best of seven) EASTERN CONFERENCE

Thursday

Islanders at TB, 7:30

Saturday

Islanders at TB, 3

April 12

TB at Islanders, 7

April 14

TB at Islanders, 7

April 16

*Islanders at TB, 7:30

April 17

*TB at Islanders, 7

April 19

*Islanders at TB, 7:30

* if necessary

[Last modified April 5, 2004, 01:20:27]

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