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Lightning top Blackhawks 5-4 in OT

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA -- Steven Stamkos probably wishes the Chicago Blackhawks came to the St. Pete Times Forum more often.

Stamkos scored three times in the second period Friday night for his second hat trick in three games against the Hawks at home, before Vincent Lecavalier's goal with 54 seconds left in overtime gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-4 victory against the Hawks on Friday night.

"I really can't explain my success against them," said Stamkos, who has seven goals and an assist in five career games against Chicago and scored three times against the Blackhawks on Feb. 17, 2009. "It's too bad they're in the West and we only play them once a year. But sometimes you just play well against certain teams. That's just the way it goes."

The sellout crowd of 19,204 saw an eight-goal second period sandwiched around scoreless first and third periods before Lecavalier took a pass from Martin St. Louis and beat Ray Emery for the win.

Stamkos' first goal, a shot from the slot past Emery just 15 seconds after the period began, opened the offensive floodgates. His third goal, a power-play one-timer from the left circle with 32.2 seconds remaining, capped Tampa Bay's comeback from a 4-2 deficit.

In between, Chicago got three goals in 65 seconds, Patrick Sharp scored twice, Daniel Carcillo ended a 28-game goal drought by beating Dwayne Roloson on a breakaway and Patrick Kane had three assists. For the Lightning, St. Louis had the first two of his three assists and rookie Brett Connolly scored his second career goal.

Connolly's goal at 4:55 of the second came when St. Louis sent a shot toward the Chicago net that landed at the rookie's feet as he stood on the goal line with his back to the net. He managed to get his blade on the puck and tapped it behind him into the net.

"For one thing, the net kind of got knocked off," Emery said of Connolly's goal. "Although I only had my stick coming across, I couldn't really make the save anyways because he was there too."

The lead didn't last long, as Marian Hossa, Carcillo and Sharp needed just 1:05 to put the Hawks in front by two -- briefly.

"You're never happy after a loss," Emery said. "It's frustrating to have a 4-2 lead and give that up."

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher called a timeout after the Lightning fell behind by two.

"Normally, he'd be pretty mad and let the guys know it," Stamkos said. "He was calm. He just said, 'Let's not allow anything else, and we know we're going to get our goals. Stay calm."'

Stamkos' second and third goals got the Lightning even before intermission.

"We had the momentum, we had them on their heels," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "But we got into some bad habits and let them back into it."

The goals disappeared in the third period, with Emery and Dwayne Roloson combining to stop all 22 shots they faced.  

Roloson finished with 28 saves on 32 shots while Emery stopped 27 of the 32 shots he faced.

The loss snapped Chicago's win streak at three and sent the Blackhawks (8-2-3) home with a split after a two-game Florida road swing in which they won 3-2 in a shootout against the Panthers on Thursday night.

Boucher, who had criticized his team's effort after a 4-2 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, was much happier after his team overcame the two-goal deficit.

"Our team has character and resilience and we continue to persist," Boucher said. "We know we have that. We will never quit in any games and we need to remind ourselves of that. We built this attitude from all last year and I'm real proud of this team."

Boucher had special praise for Stamkos, calling him a "special leader to this team.

"He's carrying his line, and pulling his teammates to make them all around better players," Boucher said.
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