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Lightning charges past Jackets with strong power play

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001


TAMPA -- The scenario was not one with which the Lightning has had much success.

Tampa Bay had not won all season when trailing after the first period, going 0-22-2. The team had to dig out of a one-goal hole Saturday night.

But this time, thanks to three third-period goals, two by Martin St. Louis on the power play, the Lightning earned a 4-1 victory at the Ice Palace.

It was Tampa Bay's third consecutive victory, the first time it has done that since early November. The team's fourth consecutive victory at home makes it 5-3-1 in its past nine.

Kevin Weekes, 5-2-1 in his past eight, continued his exceptional goaltending, making 21 saves.

The Lightning outshot the Blue Jackets 33-22, including 18-10 in the third period.

Brian Holzinger had a goal and two assists and Nils Ekman had three assists.

St. Louis' first power-play goal came 1:21 into the third and broke a 1-1 tie.

His second came at 3:36 and was his 14th goal of the season and third in two games, including Thursday's 1-0 win over the Hurricanes.

Defenseman Grant Ledyard made it 4-1 at 13:59.

Holzinger's power-play goal at 11:49 of the second period tied the score at 1 and broke an 0-for-30 streak with the man advantage. It was Tampa Bay's seventh power-play goal in 106 chances.

Lightning got the best of the first period, outshooting the Blue Jackets 11-4, but came away trailing 1-0.

Columbus' goal came 14:57 into the game when Espen Knutsen one-timed a cross-ice pass from Petteri Nummelin. Knutsen semi-fanned on the shot from in close but floated it past Weekes.

The goal was the first Weekes, who had three shutouts in his previous six games, allowed in 128 minutes, 44 seconds.

Other than that, Tampa Bay played better. It had four shots on goal on a power play early in the period. But goaltender Marc Denis stopped Andrei Zyuzin from the point, Adrian Aucoin twice from the point, and Dmitry Afanasenkov from in close.

Denis had to be alert at 5:59 when Vinny Lecavalier made a spirited charge down the boards, warded off a Columbus defender with his left arm and swept in on the goaltender. Lecavalier got the shot off with one hand, but Denis went down to block the attempt.

The Blue Jackets took some of the play back in the second period, outshooting the Lightning 9-4. But this time it was Tampa Bay that cashed in.

Holzinger converted at 11:49, but Ekman made the play when he raced past the Blue Jackets defense to grab a rolling puck and fed Holzinger, who was charging through the faceoff circle.

Weekes made the save of the game early in the period when he robbed Geoff Sanderson, who one-timed a cross-ice pass from the goaltender's left. Weekes did a split and made the save with his glove.

Weekes stopped former Lightning forward Bruce Gardiner at 5:49, when Gardiner blasted a slap shot from inside the faceoff circle. Weekes went to his knees to make the stop.

Tampa Bay got its first shot of the period at 8:56 on Alexander Kharitonov's low wrister, which tested Denis, who made a stick save.

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