Richards scores twice, gets an assist


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are proving they
belong among the NHL's elite.

Brad Richards had two goals and an assist and the Lightning beat
the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Thursday night.

Pavel Kubina and Vincent Lecavalier had the other goals for the
Southeast Division-leading Lightning, who have an 18-point lead
over second place Florida.

Tampa Bay, 13-1-1-4 over the past 19 games, is just three points
behind Philadelphia for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto also has 80 points, while Ottawa has 82.

"We're on a little roll," Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk
said. "We're playing pretty well. We have some confidence. It
wasn't our best game, but still came up with the win."

Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin made 19 saves for his 200th
career win (200-183-57).

Alex Mogilny, Mats Sundin and Joe Nieuwendyk scored for Toronto,
which has lost three straight. The Maple Leafs have dropped five of

"Generally when you go on a swoon, it's because you don't want
to work at the checking part of the game," Toronto coach Pat Quinn
said. "Some guys right now are probably thinking this game is
about them for points and not about the team for points."

Leafs goalie Ed Belfour missed his eighth consecutive game
because of a sprained back. Rookie Mikael Tellqvist made his fifth
straight start.

Belfour took part in the morning skate, but it was determined he
was not ready to play. He has played just once -- Feb. 12 against
Columbus -- in the past 12 games. His status is day to day.

The Lightning snapped a 10-game winless streak against Toronto

"It's a real confidence builder," Lightning right wing Martin
St. Louis said. "We came out and played well against a team ahead
of us."

St. Louis had two assists to tie Washington's Robert Lang for
NHL points lead with 74.

Kubina put the Lightning up 1-0 from the low slot midway in the
first period. Richards gave Tampa Bay a two-goal advantage on a
short-handed breakaway. The Lightning have 13 short-handed goals
this season.

Mogilny made it 2-1 on a blast from the slot during a power-play
16 seconds after Richards' goal. It was Mogilny's first goal --
coming in his fifth game -- since returning from a hip injury that
sidelined him 40 games. His previous goal came Nov. 15 at San Jose.

Richards, on a power play, and Sundin traded goals during the
opening 2:02 of the second period.

Tellqvist later in the period stopped Lecavalier and Martin
Cibak on breakaways. He finished with 22 saves.

"We need to get our heads back in the game and pay attention to
the defensive part of this game, or we're just going to screw up
everything we've worked for all year long," Quinn said. "We've
got a lot of guys not doing very good jobs."

Lecavalier scored his fourth goal in the past three games in the
third period, then Nieuwendyk got the Maple Leafs within 4-3 on a
power-play with 2:44 left.

"It was a tough game," Richards said. "Every time we went up
two goals, they scored right away. It just shows you when you play
a team like that how tough it is."

Game notes
St. Louis extended his point streak to 10 games (13 assists
and 19 points). ... Sundin also had an assist. He has 24 goals and
48 points in his 35 games against Tampa Bay. ... Richards has four
goals and 12 points during a six-game points streak. ... Tampa Bay
D Jassen Cullimore did not play because of a bruised shoulder. ...
Maple Leafs LW Gary Roberts (groin) missed his seventh consecutive
game. He could return for Saturday's game against New Jersey ...
Mogilny has 25 goals and 41 points in 33 games against Tampa Bay.