CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning didn't ask
goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for much in the biggest game in their
history, only perfection. He delivered it, too, by all but saving
Khabibulin was again at his best when the Lightning are in
trouble, staying undefeated following a loss in carrying Tampa Bay
to a series-tying 1-0 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of
the Stanley Cup finals Monday night.
Brad Richards scored during a two-man advantage in the opening
three minutes, his fourth game-winning goal after a Lightning
loss. Khabibulin made the goal stand up by making 29 saves in his
fifth playoff shutout this spring.
"I have to stay focused no matter what. It was nice that we got
the first goal," Khabibulin said. "We didn't get any more, but
that was enough to win."
Barely enough, as the Flames pressured all night with 10 more
shots than in any other game in the series.
"That's good goaltending," Calgary star Jarome Iginla said.
"We had some chances, but, unfortunately, we didn't make the best
Richards' 10th goal of the postseason was his seventh game-winner, breaking the record he previously shared with Joe Sakic (1996) and Joe Nieuwendyk (1999). The Lightning are 30-0-2 overall and 8-0 in the playoffs when Richards scores.
The Lightning would have been in desperate straits down 3-1, as
only the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 overcame that disadvantage in
the finals. It didn't help that Tampa Bay was without two key
regulars, forward Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Pavel Kubina, who
were injured in Calgary's 3-0 victory Saturday.
"We found a way to get it done, and that's the most important
thing," coach John Tortorella said. "Ugly as hell, but we found a
Khabibulin and the Lightning are 6-0 after a loss, outscoring
their opponents 18-5.
"There was definitely a lot of desperation, especially with a
couple of key players out," defenseman Jassen Cullimore said.
"During our video session today, the theme was, 'Let's get the
what-ifs or almosts out of our vocabulary.' "
Even without injured Fedotenko, who has 10 playoff goals,
and Kubina, who plays an average of 22 minutes, Tampa Bay was much
more aggressive from the start than it was in Game 3. For good
reason, too, as the winning team has scored first in all four
Calgary also tried to establish its physical, hard-checking
style immediately, just as it did in wearing down the Lightning in
Game 3, but Chris Clark (cross checking) and Mike Commodore
(holding) both drew penalties just 1:52 in.
Tampa Bay, 0-for-3 on the power play during the first period
Saturday, scored on the 5-on-3, with Richards powering a one-timer
from just above the hash mark past Miikka Kiprusoff as the goalie
was screened by Vincent Lecavalier. It was only the second time in
12 games Calgary has allowed a goal in the first period.
"If they kill that off, it may have been the game," Richards
said. "There really was some [desperation] there."
The Lightning played almost Calgary-like once they got the lead,
working just as hard to prevent a goal as they did to try to score
"It's [score] the first goal and then defend it, right?"
Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said. "It's the same thing we do."
Calgary did everything but score in the first period before an
electric, all-in-red crowd of 19,221 that began cheering an hour
before the game. The Flames had 12 shots in the period, 10 more
than in Game 3, and even had a good chance short-handed late in the
period when Ville Nieminen got loose on a breakaway only to have
the puck skip off his stick before he could get off a back-hander.
Khabibulin also gave the Lightning a scare in the final minute
of the period, nearly muffing the puck as it skidded down the ice on a dump-in. It was about his only mistake of the night.
Calgary was held to five shots in the second period, but stepped
up the pressure in the third period as it desperately tried to
retain home-ice advantage. Only one of the final two or, if necessary, three games will be in Calgary. Game 5 is Thursday night in Tampa.
The Flames were at a big disadvantage in the final 4:13, playing
short-handed as Nieminen drew a five-minute major penalty for
ramming Lecavalier headfirst into the boards.
"It's definitely a penalty, but it was five minutes because of
the reaction to the player going down," Sutter said. "It's a
Tortorella had a different take, saying, "You saw the play. I
don't need to say anything else."
Kiprusoff, who made 23 saves, has allowed only six goals in
the four games. He also has five shutouts. ... The Lightning also
kept alternating wins and losses, something they've done since
splitting the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals
against Philadelphia. ... Iginla was held without a goal for only
the second time in seven games. ... Calgary fell to 5-6 at home
after winning its previous two. ... Tampa Bay is 6-3 on the road.
... Calgary was shut out for only the second time in 23 playoff
games. ... New Jersey's Martin Brodeur set the record with seven
playoff shutouts last year.