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St. Louis' fourth playoff goal eliminates Islanders

4/17/2004

TAMPA, Fla. -- Fredrik Modin was in the right place at the right time all night. Still, he didn't get a good look at Martin St. Louis' game-winning goal.

"It was a rocket," the Tampa Bay forward said Friday night
after the NHL scoring champion gave the Lightning a 3-2 victory
that eliminated the New York Islanders from the opening round of
the playoffs for the third year in a row.

"I didn't see it go in, but I sure saw it come out," added
Modin, who had assists on all three Tampa Bay goals. "It bounced
right out. I don't know how it got there that fast."

Despite being outplayed for much of three games on its home ice,
the Lightning -- the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference --
took the best-of-seven series in five games. They will play the
lowest seed remaining in the conference semifinals.

Tampa Bay is in the second round for the second straight year
and the second time in team history.

"Those are the games you want to play. Those are the games you
want to be involved in," said St. Louis, who ended it from the
left circle 4:07 into overtime. "Win or lose, you remember those
games. They're fun. You dream about this as a kid -- sudden death
overtime."

Nikolai Khabibulin failed in his bid for an NHL-record fourth
shutout in the series, but finished with 24 saves -- two in overtime
before St. Louis lifted the Lightning's only shot of the extra
period over the glove of goalie Rick DiPietro.

That won the only game of the series that wasn't decided by a
3-0 score.

"It was a good shot, good player," DiPietro said.

The Islanders didn't take any consolation in playing well after
being dominated in Games 3 and 4 at the Nassau Coliseum, where they
had the best home record in the Eastern Conference during the
regular season.

"No matter how good you play, we lost the series," DiPietro
said. "We're going home and they're still playing."

Oleg Kvasha scored on a power play for New York midway through
the first period, ending a drought against Khabibulin, who hadn't
given up a goal to the Islanders since early in the third period of
Game 2.

Tim Taylor and Ruslan Fedotenko scored late in the second period
to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead that looked like it might hold up. But
New York's Mark Parrish answered with his first goal of the series
with 12:32 left in regulation.

Khabibulin tied a league record with his third shutout of the
series Wednesday night and stopped 113 of 115 shots in the first
four games.

No goaltender has ever had four shutouts in a series and it took
a video replay to confirm Khabibulin lost his bid on Kvasha's
power-play goal with 9:19 remaining in the second period.

The goal ended Khabibulin's shutout streak at 145 minutes, nine
seconds and was New York's first since Jason Blake's empty-netter
in the final minute of the Islanders' victory in Game 2.

DiPietro did his best to make it stand up, rejecting everything
the Lightning had to offer until Taylor and Fedotenko broke through
within a 2:04 span late in a second period in which Tampa Bay
outshot the Islanders 15-5.

Modin, who had eight points in the series, took a shot from in
front of the net before Taylor tapped in a rebound. Then he helped
Fedotenko capitalize on a sequence in which DiPietro lost his stick
during a Lightning onslaught.

The New York goaltender blocked one shot with his legs, but was
caught out of position when Modin's shot glanced off his pads to
Fedotenko an instant after Islanders center Dave Scatchard hastily
handed his stick to the flustered goalie.

Fedotenko's goal was scored so quickly that DiPietro didn't have
a chance to get a proper grip on the stick.

Modin made the right play in overtime, too, getting the puck to
St. Louis heading up the left side.

"He gave me a chance to walk in," St. Louis said. "I knew he
was going to the net and the puck was rolling. I was just trying to
put it on net, and it happened to go in."

Game notes

The Lightning played without injured forward Cory Stillman
and defenseman Jassen Cullimore. ... Khabibulin was the 11th
goaltender to have three shutouts in a series. Toronto's Ed Belfour
became the 12th on Friday when he shut out Ottawa for the third
time in that series. ... The Islanders are 5-7 when facing
elimination in Game 5. ... The NHL record for shutouts by two teams
in a series is five, done in two seven-game series between Toronto
and Detroit in 1945 and 1950. ... The Lightning outshot the
Islanders 36-24 in regulation.