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Tampa Bay Lightning beats Carolina Hurricanes 4-2

Marty St. Louis lets loose after his first-period goal on a slick pass from Vinny Lecavalier ties the score at 1. St. Louis also had an assist, on Dominic Moore’s goal late in the second period that broke a 2-2 tie.

Associated Press

Marty St. Louis lets loose after his first-period goal on a slick pass from Vinny Lecavalier ties the score at 1. St. Louis also had an assist, on Dominic Moore’s goal late in the second period that broke a 2-2 tie.

RALEIGH, N.C. — You could barely hear yourself talk in the Lightning locker room Saturday night, the music was so loud.

Some players sang along with whatever blasted out of the speakers. One even did a quick dance move.

Big wins spark that kind of behavior, and Tampa Bay's 4-2 decision over the Hurricanes at the RBC Center, which broke a four-game losing streak, fit the bill.

"That," said center Dominic Moore, "was one of our most complete efforts in a while."

He wasn't kidding. The Lightning (40-24-11) has been reeling, with just two wins in 12 games entering Saturday, and Friday's 4-3 loss to Carolina was one of its worst of the season.

"The bottom of the bottom," defenseman Mike Lundin said.

The difference Saturday was the Lightning created opportunities and cashed in on them.

Moore's power-play goal with 2:07 left in the second period broke a 2-2 tie. Simon Gagne, continuing a resurgence in which he has six goals and 10 points in six games, had two tallies, including an empty netter.

Marty St. Louis had a goal and two points, Vinny Lecavalier had two assists, and goaltender Mike Smith made 33 saves for his first win since Dec. 18.

"A huge game," Gagne said.

That lowered the Lightning's magic number to clinch a playoff spot to four points, something that can happen Tuesday if it beats the Senators in regulation and Carolina loses in regulation to the Capitals.

Still, it was startling to see Tampa Bay play so solidly after such an abysmal showing the day before.

A couple of things came into play. Carolina, ninth in the Eastern Conference and fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot, was nine points behind the Lightning. A Tampa Bay loss Saturday and the difference is seven, and suddenly a playoff spot doesn't look all that secure.

"Players realized," coach Guy Boucher said, "we're fighting for our lives."

Boucher at a pregame meeting also used Friday's loss as a teachable moment.

"We talked about deserving it," he said. "We've been waiting for games to come to us. It's not going to happen, no matter who you play."

"The lesson was that the urgency and desperation had to be there," Moore said. "If you don't have that, you give yourself no chance."

Here's how you give yourself a chance:

St. Louis scored off a pass from Lecavalier, who on a rush to the net first had to deftly avoid a stick check. Gagne scored after stealing the puck, Moore put in a Lecavalier rebound, and the team blocked 24 shots.

"We decided today we were going to work," Boucher said.

It was music to his ears.

Lightning 2 1 1 4
Hurricanes 2 0 0 2
Lightning 2 1 1 4
Hurricanes 2 0 0 2

First Period1, Carolina, E.Staal 31 (Stillman, McBain), 7:07 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 27 (Lecavalier), 13:56. 3, Tampa Bay, Gagne 15, 17:36. 4, Carolina, Cole 23 (Stillman, Allen), 19:09. PenaltiesDownie, TB (hooking), 6:18; Thompson, TB (interference), 11:53.

Second Period5, Tampa Bay, Moore 15 (Lecavalier, St. Louis), 17:53 (pp). PenaltiesBrewer, TB (hooking), 6:27; Cole, Car (goaltender interference), 16:28.

Third Period6, Tampa Bay, Gagne 16, 19:11 (en). PenaltiesBowman, Car (boarding), 2:38; Brewer, TB, minor-major (cross-checking, fighting), 17:13; Bra.Sutter, Car, minor-major (slashing, fighting), 17:13; Moore, TB (roughing), 19:55; Skinner, Car (roughing), 19:55. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 7-12-13—32. Carolina 10-12-13—35. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 2; Carolina 1 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, Smith 11-6-1 (35 shots-33 saves). Carolina, Ward 32-25-9 (31-28). A17,264 (18,680).

Lightning 4

Hurricanes 2

Tampa Bay Lightning beats Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 11:21pm]

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