The Lightning just answered the bell with remarkable punctuality.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in the game for the victory. Consider that for a moment. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and all the impressive firepower the Pittsburgh Penguins can array the Tampa Bay Lightning shut them down and held them to a paltry 18 shots on goal. And Shane O'Brien hasn't yet added his particular talents to this defensive corps.
Brad Richards ran wild on Pittsburgh with 1 goal and 3 assists. Martin St. Louis added 1 goal and 1 assist while Richards' linemates, Eric Perrin and Ruslan Fedotenko, each had 2 assists. Vincent Lecavalier scored his league leading 41st goal, a shorthanded marker, Filip Kuba his 10th and Paul Ranger had his 4th talley of the season. Dan Boyle had an individual assist.
And so, the Lightning fully capitalized on their game in hand on Atlanta and Carolina and have opened up a 3 point lead on the Smirkin' Chikins and a 4 points lead on the Hurricanes with just 18 games remaining in the regular season. The trade deadline is Tuesday. With the addition of one or two more forwards, this is a Stanley Cup contender. The ball is in your court, Jay Feaster.
Tampa Bay 2:17, Martin St. Louis 38 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 3:56, Paul Ranger 4 (Eric Perrin, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 4:58, Filip Kuba 10 (Brad Richards, Ruslan Fedotenko)
Pittsburgh 8:26, Sergei Gonchar 10 (power play) (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby)
Tampa Bay 1:31, Brad Richards 22 (Eric Perrin, Ruslan Fedotenko)
Tampa Bay 14:16, Vincent Lecavalier 41 (shorthanded) (Martin St. Louis)
Game sheet from NHL.com.