TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Coming off an outstanding road trip, the Tampa Bay
Lightning were ready to play.
Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis were among four Tampa Bay players with a
goal and an assist as the Lightning sent the Pittsburgh Penguins to their
eighth straight loss with a 5-1 victory Thursday night.
The Lightning returned home after going 3-0-1 on a road trip that included
victories at Calgary, Edmonton and Pittsburgh.
``The first game back is always on your mind because it's the toughest
game,'' Richards said. ``We knew this was important.''
St. Louis has nine goals _ including five in the past three games _ and 16
points during an eight-game point streak. Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Lukowich
also had a goal and an assist.
Tampa Bay won all four meetings between the teams this season, outscoring
the NHL's worst team 23-4.
``We all know Pittsburgh is rebuilding,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella
said. ``You have to keep focus and get ready for every game.''
Pavel Kubina had a power-play goal for the Southeast Division-leading
Lightning, who have a nine-point advantage over second-place Atlanta.
Ryan Malone scored Pittsburgh's goal. The Penguins have lost 14 of 16.
``As far as our situation, we'll continue to give guys an opportunity and
re-evaluate each and every night,'' Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said.
``Evaluation hasn't stopped and there are plenty of guys still waiting for an
opportunity in the organization. That's the reality of it.''
The biggest development for the Penguins took place before the game when the
team announced goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the No. 1 pick in the June draft,
will return to his junior team in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on Friday.
``I didn't know if it was going to happen or not,'' Fleury said. ``My dream
always has been to be in the NHL and now I'm going back, but I'm very grateful
to the Penguins. They gave me a chance to be part of the team for a while.''
The move came several days after the Penguins signaled they had no plans to
send Fleury back to juniors in the near future.
The Lightning scored three times on their first seven shots against
Jean-Sebastien Aubin in the first period.
Richards opened the scoring at 4:44. After Kubina followed with his third
power-play goal in the past two games at 13:27, Lecavalier made it 3-0 on a
breakaway backhander with 4:20 left in the period.
St. Louis gave the Lightning a four-goal lead with his 24th goal 3:59 into
the second. Lukowich added his first goal in 18 games at 7:36.
Malone scored on a breakaway with 3:31 left in the second. The goal came on
the Penguins' ninth shot against Nikolai Khabibulin.
Pittsburgh was outshot 32-14.