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Reignited!

The Lightning shows energy, offense and grit.

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published May 28, 2004

TAMPA - The Lightning locker room was quiet before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. There was no rock music blaring. No one felt the need to make a dramatic speech.

It was just the way defenseman Nolan Pratt likes it.

"When we're quiet before games, it seems like we're really ready," he said. "Very focused."

The noise came later.

The Lightning's 4-1 victory over the Flames Thursday night in front of a crowd of 22,222, the largest ever at the St. Pete Times Forum, evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece and helped erase the memory of a terrible loss in Game 1.

But it also seemed to signal the end of this quaint little series between two low-payroll, hard-working teams.

Thirty-two penalties were called for 124 minutes. Twenty-four for 108 came in the third period, with four fighting majors, game misconducts to Calgary's Martin Gelinas and Tampa Bay's Chris Dingman, and 10-minute misconducts to Calgary's Chris Simon and Chuck Kobasew, and Tampa Bay's Dingman and Pavel Kubina.

The game ended with Lightning enforcer Andre Roy threatening Andrew Ference, who earlier fought Cory Stillman in what seemed to be an attempt at payback for an elbow Stillman threw at Marcus Nilson in Game 1.

"Nobody likes to lose," Lightning wing Ruslan Fedotenko said. "They tried to send a message. It was a great job by our guys when we responded."

"It's not like we have a lot of hate for this team," wing Martin St. Louis said. "But you have to have some hate for your opponent. That makes you able to beat them in the playoffs."

The rough stuff was just an exclamation point on the Lightning's fine effort.

Fedotenko's 10th goal of the playoffs put Tampa Bay ahead 7:10 into the first. The Lightning broke it open with goals from Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis in a span of 3:07 of the third to make it 4-0 at 5:58.

Richards' goal was his ninth of the postseason and sixth winner, which tied the mark of Colorado's Joe Sakic (1996) and Dallas' Joe Nieuwendyk (1999).

Richards also had an assist. Captain Dave Andreychuk had two as did Vinny Lecavalier, who was physical and played his best overall game of the playoffs. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin rebounded from a so-so effort in Game 1 to make 18 saves.

Ville Nieminen got Calgary's goal on the power play with 7:39 left in the third.

"They outscored us and outplayed us," Flames defenseman Dave Lowry said. "That's two pretty important things. We let them take it to us. We were on our heels and they took all the momentum."

"We knew," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We knew we were going to play the game we were supposed to play the first game but didn't. It's a mind-set."

A mind-set that got straightened out during Wednesday's long and brutal video session.

"I'm not so sure I was calm between games," Tortorella said. "We were honest. You need to evaluate yourself ... understand where you are as a club and look for answers and try to find a response."

Tampa Bay responded in the first period by killing off four Flames power plays and 6 of 7 in the game. It won 67 percent of faceoffs including a 12-for-16 effort from Lecavalier and a 10-for-14 effort from Richards.

The Lightning outshot Calgary 31-19, including 13-4 in the third, and blocked numerous shots with bodies and sticks.

The aesthetics were pleasing too. Lecavalier's pass to himself off the back of the Flames net helped set up Fedotenko's goal. And Andreychuk's effort to dig the puck away from Calgary's Stephane Yelle in the slot led to Richards'.

The power play was just 1-for-9 with St. Louis scoring on a five-on-three. But the team played with the determination and intensity so lacking in Game 1.

"It makes a huge difference if guys have their legs going," Pratt said. "We got off to the start we wanted and created the momentum."

Nothing quiet about that.

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