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One last shot

St. Louis' dramatic goal in double overtime forces Game 7 in Tampa.

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published June 6, 2004

CALGARY - Maybe you believe in coincidences. Maybe you believe in fate. Maybe not. But you have to admit, the moment that inspired the Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final is one that will be remembered.

How much affect it had in Tampa Bay's dramatic 3-2 double-overtime victory over the Flames on Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome is debatable. But, hey, it makes a good story.

It's even better considering Martin St. Louis' rebound goal 33 seconds into the second extra period tied the best-of-seven series at three games apiece and forced a deciding Game 7 on Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"It's awesome," Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We celebrated for about 30 seconds, and then realized we were in Game 7."

"We have," center Tim Taylor said, "the chance of a lifetime."

That chance was helped by a pair of second-period power-play goals by Brad Richards, who has a team-high 12 goals in the postseason, and 31 saves by goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

But the spark might have been delivered Friday when Taylor played for his teammates in the Lightning locker room a message on his cell phone left by Ray Bourque.

The likely Hall of Fame defenseman, in 2001, was in his last season with the Avalanche and participating in his last chance to win a Stanley Cup. Colorado trailed the Devils three games to two but won at New Jersey and then at home to win the championship.

Bourque's message to Taylor: "He said he was impressed with our team and we could do it. ... It came out of the blue."

Taylor said he met Bourque in Boston earlier in the season. Taylor said Bourque tracked down his number. Taylor recorded the message and played it for his teammates.

"For him to call, and the stuff he said, they were very impressed," Taylor said.

Said St. Louis: "I grew up watching Ray Bourque. I was really happy when he won his Cup, but I didn't remember they were down 3-2 going to Jersey. For him to take the time out of his life and really care about what we're going through, it really reached us.

"It meant a lot. They did it, so why shouldn't we. That's kind of the way I felt. It was nice to hear it from a Hall of Famer, a guy that has been through it."

St. Louis did it on his only shot of the game after Taylor's slap shot from the point deflected off Richards and was stopped by goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

"I was just trying to put it on net," said St. Louis, who got his ninth goal.

"You never know."

The Lightning led after both of Richards goals but was matched by Calgary's Chris Clark and Marcus Nilson, who scored with 2:11 left in the second period.

It was a strange goal. A floating puck bounced off Boyle and was picked up by Oleg Saprykin, who made a perfect pass to Nilson, who was left alone by defenseman Nolan Pratt, who left Nilson to guard Saprykin.

A controversy was defused when Flames coach Darryl Sutter did not make a big deal of an apparent third-period goal by Martin Gelinas that would have snapped the 2-2 tie.

A replay showed the puck apparently across the goal line after Gelinas slid into the puck with his right foot. Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations, said no conclusive replay was seen.

Sutter said, "I looked at it, and it has to be a conclusive play. I can't argue the point."

There is no arguing with what the Lightning accomplished in its record 13th consecutive alternate decision.

It silenced the 19,221 in the arena and rebounded from one of its worst offensive efforts in Game 5 with no room for error.

"We never wanted to guarantee anything, but we felt very good about this game," Taylor said. "The pressure was off us, and we said we were just going to play and let the chips fall where they may."

Just like Bourque said.

"It was," Taylor said, "like he was our coach out there a little bit."

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