1. Archive

Lecavalier hat trick keys rout

It's a wonder Lightning coaches did not go hoarse the past two days with all the meetings it held with players.

Meetings with videotape, meetings without, individual meetings with a player and coach.

So many meetings, coach John Tortorella on Thursday decided to bag the usual 6 p.m. game-day gathering and turn his team loose.

"We were meetinged out," he said. "We had done enough videotape the past few days.

"Sooner or later, you just have to go play."

Did they ever, overwhelming the Thrashers in an 8-0 rout at the St. Pete Times Forum.

It tied the second-most goals Tampa Bay has scored and its second-widest margin of victory. Only a 9-0 win over the Penguins in November 2003 was better.

Vinny Lecavalier scored Tampa Bay's first three goals for his fourth career hat trick and had two assists for a career-high five points. Marty St. Louis had the same with a goal and career-high four assists.

And goaltender Marc Denis made 21 saves to break a seven-game winless streak and earn his 100th victory, his first Lightning shutout and 16th of his career.

Not a bad way to mark Tortorella's 400th game as Tampa Bay coach and the team's fourth win this season in five games against Southeast-leading Atlanta.

"It shows us," St. Louis said, "that if we play 60 minutes, we get rewarded."

There hadn't been many of those lately.

The Lightning (14-13-2) was on an 0-3-1 streak in which it was outscored 18-8 and was 0-for-23 on the power play. A 4-1 loss to the Sabres on Tuesday was an especially mixed bag.

The team won most of the statistical categories, but Tortorella said some of the details were lacking, such as winning battles for the puck and taking time and space away from shooters.

So there were meetings.

"We had said it all," Lecavalier said. "There's a point when you don't need to say anything else.

"Guys knew it was a big game. We just wanted to play."

Lecavalier, whose 17 goals tied St. Louis for the team lead, opened the scoring with 27.6 seconds left in the first period. A second-period goal snapped a streak of power-play futility that had grown to 0-for-25.

His third goal began a stretch of 2:44 in which Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards finished off a four-goal period.

St. Louis assisted on all of Lecavalier's tallies. Lecavalier assisted on St. Louis' with a perfect pass at the goal mouth to finish a short-handed two-on-one rush.

"We knew we were going and fed off each other," St. Louis said. "It was contagious."

"Their execution was flawless," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "They beat us fair and square."

With plenty to build on, including a forecheck that kept the Thrashers bottled up, more wins than losses in puck battles and a 38-21 shot advantage.

There were two power-play goals, an unassisted goal by Dan Boyle and a goal by Ruslan Fedotenko, who snapped a 14-game drought.

"I'll tell you one thing," St. Louis said. "The next video session will be a good one."

There wasn't much else to say.