Considering the Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup with a dramatic 2-1 Game 7 victory over the Flames at the St. Pete Times Forum, Tim Taylor recognizes that it might seem odd the team's greatest goal happened in Game 6.
But as the former Tampa Bay center recently said of Marty St. Louis' tally 33 seconds into double overtime, which gave the Lightning a 3-2 win in Calgary: "For this franchise to win the Stanley Cup, that goal had to happen."
“To be honest, that was the Stanley Cup," Taylor added of the win, which tied the series at three games apiece and sent it back to Tampa. "On the road in Game 6 with all of Canada watching and praying the Flames would win — by far, that was the biggest goal."
"It was amazing," then-Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said. "If you go into my office, I bought (a picture) of that goal on eBay that Marty signed. That's how huge I believe that goal was for myself and for everybody."
That St. Louis scored against the team that cut him loose after the 1999-2000 season just added to the drama.
It was a nothing play, really. Taylor's shot from the point barely tipped Brad Richards' stick. Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made a right-leg save. But then St. Louis, as if out of nowhere, smacked the rebound through the slightest of openings under Kiprusoff's right arm.
"After scoring that goal, you just realize we go back home and get a chance of winning the Cup," St. Louis said. "So for me, there will never be a bigger goal. … Unless it's Game 7 and in overtime of the Stanley Cup final."
Andreychuk, who won his first Cup with the Lightning and now is the team's vice president for fan and business development, remembers watching from the bench.
"All I remember is (the Flames) shooting it around the boards and Tim keeps it in (the Calgary zone)," he said. "The next thing, Marty has it on his stick, and it ends up in the back of the net. It wasn't a fluke goal. Yes, he gets the puck in front of the net, but he still makes a pretty good shot."
It was St. Louis' only shot of the game.
"That's how tight checking that game was," the right wing said. "I just tried to get the puck on net. I was just hoping to beat (Kiprusoff) back to the post, but he was quick, and it just somehow went under his arm."
But the goal might not have happened without …
Two small moments
The first was Lightning defenseman Jassen Cullimore pinching into the offensive zone along the boards and falling after getting tangled with a Flames player. The stumble proved a blessing in disguise. Calgary's Jordan Leopold, moving to challenge Taylor at the point, tripped and fell over Cullimore's legs.
"That was huge," Taylor said. "If he would have come at me quicker, I might have had to fire the puck away. But I had that extra second to get my head up and see it was wide open."
What Taylor saw was a shooting lane to the net, with only St. Louis and Richards in the vicinity.
"All their guys had overloaded on the left side," Taylor said of the Flames. "When I saw (St. Louis and Richards) open, I knew my shot had to be along the ice, and it had to be something that wasn't going to be real hard so they could either tip it or stop it so they could have a two-on-oh in front. I shot it along the ice."
And that brings us to the second small moment.
Just a touch
It is barely noticeable on replays, but Taylor's shot glanced off Richards' stick. "When I touched it, I thought I messed the play up," said Richards, who had two goals and three points in the game. "I was in between on what to do. It had no pace, so I tried to let it go. It worked out because the goalie thought I would do more with it."
"It screwed up Kiprusoff and his rebound control," St. Louis said. "He wasn't able to put it where he wanted it. It just came on my stick. I tried to shoot it quick up to the top of the net. It looks like it goes top shelf, but it actually goes under his arm first. It was so tight, a quick reaction."
"It's funny," Taylor said, "how you can make 20,000 people sound like a pin drop."
"It was awesome," Andreychuk said. "I've been in double overtime and triple overtime, but for us to go into that building and win, to hang in there when the Cup was in the building, to play the way we played. I remember saying in the room after, I had the best seat in the house for the greatest hockey game I'd ever seen."
And the Lightning's greatest goal.
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