TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning needed more from
their top players to push the Stanley Cup finals to a seventh game,
and that's just what they got.
"It's the most important goal I've scored for sure," St. Louis
said Sunday. "I've scored some nicer ones, but this is the one that
matters the most."
St. Louis didn't take a shot in the game until ending it 33
seconds into the second overtime.
Richards, who had no goals and five assists in 11 playoff games
last year, has the NHL lead with 25 in this postseason. That's one
more than St. Louis, the regular-season scoring champ, and three
more than the Calgary Flames' scoring machine, Jarome Iginla.
Now the Lightning just need to get Vincent Lecavalier going. He
has struggled in this physical series against the Flames and has
only two assists in six games.
"I expect his best game," coach John Tortorella said. "You
have got to give Calgary credit in some checking he's been through.
Vinny still has one more game."
There was much talk before Game 6 as to which
team was really under pressure.
Was it the top-seeded Lightning, who entered the game
in Calgary one loss away from elimination? Or was it the upstart
Flames, who had a chance to win the Cup on home ice?
Now that Tampa Bay has forced Game 7, some assessments were made on
the last off day of the finals.
"The team that's down by 3-2, it's always easier for them
coming into the game and meet the challenge," Flames forward
Ville Nieminen said. "All the pressure was on us. Nobody has the
pressure right now."
The Flames are 10-3 away from home in the playoffs, and if they
win the Cup they will set the NHL record for road wins in one
Miikka Kiprusoff's overtime scoreless streak
was snapped at 77 minutes, 13 seconds when Martin St. Louis won
Game 6 for Tampa Bay in double overtime.
Calgary has won five straight overtime games since falling in triple
overtime to Vancouver in Game 6 of the first round.
Game 7 heaven
The Flames and Lightning will play the 13th
seventh game in Stanley Cup finals history on Monday night.
Following New Jersey's 3-0 home victory over Anaheim in 2003,
the championship will be decided in a seventh game in consecutive years
for the first time since 1964-65.
"When you're growing up, that's what it was. Street hockey,
everywhere. No one talks about Game 4, no one thinks about
sweeping. It's always Game 7, right down to the wire," Flames
forward Craig Conroy said. "That's the difference, and that's what
makes it exciting."
The odds are in the host Lightning's favor as home teams are
10-2 in the previous 12 Game 7s. Montreal was the last road team to
win the decisive game away from home, in Chicago in 1971.
"We fought for the home-ice advantage all year long, and it's
nice that we got to experience Game 7 in the last series,"
Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said.
It would be understandable if Flames forward
Rhett Warrener had enough of disputed goals in the crease during
the Stanley Cup finals.
Warrener was on the wrong end for the second time in his career
Saturday night. A puck hit off the skate of teammate Martin Gelinas,
and one television replay appeared to show that it sneaked
across the goal line before Bolts goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
got his pad on it.
Neither referee signaled goal, and the red light above the net
wasn't turned on. So, those on the ice didn't know that a
controversy was under way.
Video replay didn't help Warrener then, and it didn't help him
this time, either.
"I've been told by the league that they check everything,"
Warrener said Sunday. "This one is a little different. The refs
didn't signal it, the goal judge never signaled -- so why would you
review the play?
"I've been involved in other ones where a bit of a red flag is
raised. This one is a nonfactor."