NHL Game Night: 3/25/11 Hurricanes at Lightning

54 minutes of garbage followed by the awakening of a long slumbering giant.

CAR-4
TB-3

Dwayne Roloson allowed 4 goals on 39 shots for the loss.

First Period
07:11 TB Gagne (13), St Louis (60), Lecavalier (24)(PP)
12:52 CAR Skinner (26), Ruutu (32), Pitkanen (29)

Second Period
08:23 CAR Cole (21), Stillman (22), Staal (37)(PP)

Third Period
06:50 CAR Cole (22), unassisted
12:20 CAR Staal (30), Corvo (25), Pitkanen (30)(PP)
13:17 TB Lecavalier (20), Hedman (22)
14:09 TB Gagne (14), St Louis (61), Clark (21)(PP)

Simon Gagne was the game's second star.

That was painful and ugly to watch for about 54 minutes, and then the Lightning got a tip to go their way and it was, "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war." It looked as if the Lightning finally got sick of getting kicked in the ribs and decided to rise up and try to do something about it. Maybe I'm an optimist, but those last 6 minutes looked like a turning point to me. Time will tell, but I saw the Lightning play with a tempo and urgency that hasn't been seen in a while. Not that the Lightning haven't been playing hard, but they haven't been playing THAT hard in a while.

Congratulation to Vincent Lecavalier on his 11th straight 20 goal season. In doing so he's accomplished something that many a Hall of Famer couldn't. Steve Yzerman? His career best was 8 straight seasons. Jean Beliveau? 7 seasons. Mario Lemieux? 6 seasons. With injuries and in a sport where teams change personnel like they're pairs of socks, it's really difficult to string that many 20 goal seasons. When you throw in the fact that 2/3rds of Vinny's career was played in the pre-lockout clutch and grab era, it's even more amazing that he could stay healthy enough and get enough chances to complete the feat when facing nightly muggings.

It's ironic that Lecavalier has faced so much criticism over the course of his career for a presumed lack of consistent effort or interest, but 11 straight 20 goal seasons suggests that any critique of Lecavalier's career to this point needs a little more depth and nuance than that because the stats speak to a level of professionalism he hasn't always been given credit for. Let me put it another way: if Vinny had played the last month the way Steven Stamkos has, there would've been at least 3 dozen rumors of various trades to Montreal and a segment of the Lightning fan base ready to tar and feather him before putting him on an airplane out of town. Ultimately, there's an easy way for Vinny to complete his legacy in Tampa Bay: captain this team to a Stanley Cup. I've just always found it a little bizarre how much higher the bar has been set for Vinny and that he doesn't seem to get the full measure of respect, not just in Tampa but league-wide, for accomplishments that are almost unheard of in this era of hockey.

Blair Jones was -2 in 5:59.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.