TAMPA, Fla. – Led by Vincent Lecavalier’s fifth career hattrick the Tampa Bay Lightning skated to their fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday night. As the Lightning faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes for the first of four meetings at the St. Pete Times Forum, Lecavalier set two new franchise records to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-1 victory.
Posting five points on the night Lecavalier extended his current point-scoring streak to six games to set a new franchise record for most consecutive multi-point games. Lecavalier has recorded 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) since a November 3 match-up against the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Lightning center set a new franchise record for most career hat tricks (five) while tying his career high of five points in a contest. Lecavalier matched his previous personal best of three goals and two assists against Atlanta on December 7, 2006.
The teams skated through a scoreless first period before the Lightning broke out for five goals in the second. Early in the contest Justin Williams fired a hard shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that goaltender Johan Holmqvist kicked away with the right pad.
Minutes later Hurricanes netminder John Grahame denied a close attempt by Jan Hlavac as the Lightning forward attempted to convert a pass by Brad Richards from behind the net. Grahame later held off a Hlavac slapshot from the left faceoff circle, gloving the shot for the save.
After the teams played through a scoreless opening frame, defenseman Paul Ranger opened the scoring to kick off a five-goal period for the Lightning. Posting his second goal in consecutive games, Ranger converted a long offensive zone pass for his third marker of the season. As Ranger skated unchecked down the left side he took the Lecavalier pass and cut to the net, switching to the backhand to pop a shot over Grahame’s left glove side.
Less than three minutes later Lecavalier connected for his first goal of the night. With players crashing towards the net, the Tampa Bay center glided out to the right of Grahame and the net. As Lecavalier sent a pass towards Martin St. Louis, the puck deflected off a Hurricanes defender and into the side of the net.
A little past the midway point of the contest St. Louis and Lecavalier added another pair of Lightning goals in a span of 1:52 to build a 4-0 lead.
Notching his six goal of the season, St. Louis cut to the front of the net with less than eight minutes remaining in the period. As Grahame dove across his crease to follow the play, St. Louis flipped a back-handed shot into the top right corner of the net.
With one goal and two assists in the contest St. Louis also extended his current scoring streak to six games. The Lightning winger has recorded 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in that stretch.
Adding his second goal of the night, his fourth point of the frame, Lecavalier connected on a breakaway attempt as he skated deep into the slot, back-handing the puck to the left glove-side against Grahame for the score.
With his four points during the middle frame, Lecavalier tied a team record for most points in a single period. Defenseman Dan Boyle last reached the mark with three goals and one assist against the New York Rangers on December 23, 2006.
After Holmqvist denied a shot by Williams and a tough rebound chance by Cory Stillman at the side of the net, Vaclav Prospal converted a Tampa Bay power play with 42 seconds remaining in the frame.
Connecting on an odd-man rush, Prospal fired a shot from the left faceoff circle to sneak the puck low to the left of Grahame. The goal was Prospal’s 12th of the season, extending his point-scoring streak to six games. The Lightning winger has posted 10 points, including three goals during the stretch.
Following up the five-goal period, the teams exchanged goals in the third to finish out the scoring.
Although Jeffrey Hamilton snuck a shot below the crossbar for his fifth goal of the season, Lecavalier responded with his third goal of the night with 5:09 remaining in the contest.
Skating into the zone alone on a short-handed breakaway, Lecavalier flicked a wrist shot from the slot. Grahame got a piece of the shot, but the puck slipped through the five-hole for the score.
Posting two assists in the contest, including a helper on the final goal of the contest, defenseman Mike Lundin posted the first multi-point night of his career.
As the teams skated practically toe-to-toe in shots per period, Holmqvist made 28 saves for his ninth victory of the season. Carolina out-shot Tampa Bay 29-28 in the contest, but converted only one of seven power play opportunities.
“In the first period we were really flat and it seemed like we were second on the puck,” Lecavalier said. “[Holmqvist] really kept us in the game. In the second period we were more aggressive, we got more opportunities and we capitalized on them.”
The Lightning improved to 2-0 against the Hurricanes this season and have won six consecutive meetings between the teams. Tampa Bay has won four consecutive games, including their previous two at home, improving to 8-1-1 through 10 games at the St. Pete Times Forum this season.
With three goals and two assists in the contest Lecavalier leap-frogged five players to become the current league-leader in points. The Lightning center has recorded 29 points, including 12 goals through 18 games this season.
Tampa Bay returns to action on Friday, November 16 (8:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) as they face off against the Washington Capitals for the third of eight meetings. The game marks the first match-up between the teams at the St. Pete Times Forum this season.
Martin St. Louis
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Martin St. Louis
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Martin St. Louis
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Interference on goalkeeper