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On track and rolling with rout
LIGHTNING 6, FLYERS 0: Fredrik Modin's hat trick and Sean Burke's 38-save shutout help extend Tampa Bay's unbeaten streak to six.
By TOM JONES
Published January 29, 2006
Vinny Prospal, right, shooting past the Flyers' Mike Knuble, had the fifth Lightning goal.
PHILADELPHIA - Immediately following Saturday afternoon's game at the Wachovia Center, the Lightning boarded a speeding train to Washington for today's game against the Capitals.
Right now, the Lightning is playing like a runaway train that cannot be stopped. Ask the Flyers, who were steamrolled 6-0 in front of 19,789 disappointed fans who sounded as if they were spending the afternoon in church instead of watching what was supposed to be a showdown between two of the best teams in the NHL.
"Everybody is chipping in and we're playing very well at this point in time as a team," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "That's the most important thing. To win consistently in this league, you need to play as a team and that's the way we've been doing it the last little bit."
The Lightning did a whole lot of playing as a team Saturday and that has been the most impressive part of the team's streak that has reached 5-0-1. It isn't one aspect that is winning games, but all facets.
On Saturday, Fredrik Modin recorded his third career hat trick. The power play matched a season high with three goals. The penalty killers snuffed out four Philadelphia power plays. The Lightning equaled season highs in goals and margin of victory. And Sean Burke, who turns 39 today, got a head start on celebrating with a sturdy and often spectacular 38-save shutout.
There's more: Pavel Kubina had three assists, rookie Ryan Craig and Marty St. Louis had two points each and 12 players found their way onto the scoresheet.
"It sounds simple, but we're just working hard," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "It feels like we're working hard and giving ourselves a chance and the goalies are playing really well and keeping us in the game."
Burke's shutout came on the heels of a John Grahame shutout on Thursday and gives the Lightning four shutouts in the past 11 games. Burke, however, refused to take sole credit.
"They're nice as a team," Burke said. "Obviously, it's a stat they credit you with individually and people seem to focus on them. But as a player, you realize there are nights when you play great and you don't get one. And there are other nights when everybody chips in and somehow you find a way to get a shutout. ... That's what this game was."
The Lightning is working on the hand-in-hand theory these days. Victories are producing confidence. And, in turn, confidence is producing victories.
"It all starts with our desperation level," Tortorella said. "We're playing with desperation."
The Lightning was the more desperate and better team for nearly all 60 minutes, taking a 1-0 lead on Boyle's 11th goal at 14:47 of the first. Modin deflected in two power-play goals in the second. Modin, Vinny Prospal and Craig closed out the scoring in the third against a team the Lightning is slapping around with regularity.
Tampa Bay has won seven consecutive regular-season games against the Flyers and has won five in a row in Philadelphia.
"It was a strong effort in a building against a team that we know is a real quality hockey club," Burke said. "We can enjoy it for the next 10 or 15 minutes and then we got to go out and win another game (today) or we don't make this one as big as it is."
Right now, the Lighting can't afford to take its foot off the pedal. Tampa Bay (27-20-4) moved into a tie for sixth in the Eastern Conference with the Devils, but its place in the standings remains precarious.
"They're starting to believe and you start feeling better about things," Tortorella said. "They don't think anything bad is going to happen to them. They have a little bit of confidence about them now.
"It's a fine line, though. If you start cheating the other way and you think it's going to be easy, that's when it snowballs the other way."
Right now, however, the Lightning is back on track, all are aboard and it is moving full steam ahead.