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Lecavalier sets points record for franchise

Lightning forward Vinny Lecavalier continued the best season of his career Friday night by breaking the club record with his 95th point on a first-period goal against the Sabres.

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA,Times Staff Writer
Published March 17, 2007


TAMPA - Lightning forward Vinny Lecavalier continued the best season of his career Friday night by breaking the club record with his 95th point on a first-period goal against the Sabres.

With his league-high 47th goal, which came 2:11 into the game, Lecavalier passed the mark of linemate Marty St. Louis, who set it in 2003-04 when he won the Hart Trophy regular-season MVP and Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup.

St. Louis fed Lecavalier from the left corner for an open wrist shot from the edge of the right circle for an early one-goal lead against the Sabres.

He added his 48th goal - and 96th point - early in the third period to pull the Lightning within one at 3-2.

"You can tell those guys are having more fun playing the game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Lecavalier and St. Louis. "... That's one line you've got to stop."

Lecavalier has already broken Brian Bradley's single-season mark of 42 goals.

SMABY RECALLED: The team recalled defenseman Matt Smaby from Springfield to add depth to a blue line decimated by the injury to Paul Ranger.

In recalling Smaby, the Lightning sent forward Kyle Wanvig to Springfield.

Smaby, 22, a first-year pro who was the team's second-round pick in 2003, had two goals and 14 assists for the Falcons.

General manager Jay Feaster has said he wanted to keep the team's top prospects, such as Smaby, in the minors to experience a playoff-run season together, but the Falcons have lost 19 of their past 22.

Now Smaby, who arrived in Tampa on Friday but did not dress for the game, gets the opportunity to play in an NHL playoff run.

"I think it will be interesting to see the speed of (the NHL)," Smaby said. "I'm sure it's a different level than the AHL. It will be interesting to see what it's like."

DICEY ICE: With the ACC basketball tournament taking over the St. Pete Times Forum last week and the Lightning in the midst of a two-week trip, the ice was removed for the event and replaced Monday and Tuesday.

Players noticed during Friday's morning skate and Thursday's practice at the Forum that ice conditions weren't ideal.

"It's awful," forward Eric Perrin said. "It's really chippy. I don't think we go out there thinking about that too much. We know that at the end of some periods, the puck might be bouncing.

"We just have to be careful with the puck, in their zone especially."

ODDS AND ENDS: Goaltender Marc Denis made his fourth consecutive start but fell to 6-3 in his past nine decisions. ... The Lightning fell to 4-13-2 against Northeast Division teams. ... It slipped to 6-2-1 in its past nine at home. ... Forward Andreas Karlsson, still wearing a protective bandage over his cut left index finger, returned from the injured reserve list after missing seven games. "The adrenaline also takes the pain away." ... Ruff on St. Louis: "When you think you've got him, you don't. When you think you can get him, you can't." ... Smaby, defenseman Luke Richardson and forwards Blair Jones and Karl Stewart were healthy scratches.

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.