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Tough night for goalies in Tampa

by Phil Coffey

Goals came early and often in the Flames’ first visit to Tampa since losing Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final to the Bolts.
”Little help!”

One could envision Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff and Tampa Bay’s Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis sending out an SOS Thursday night as the goals came early and often in the Flames’ first visit to Tampa since losing Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final to the Bolts.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Flames had a 9-6 win as firewagon hockey was on display for all to see.

When the dust settled, Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius each had hat trick for the Flames, while Marty St. Louis had two goals and an assist for the Lightning.

"It's not a goalie's dream game,” the mild-mannered Kiprusoff understated, “but you still have to be able to win these crazy games. You just have to keep working. At the end of the night, you look, it's two points, and you have to be happy with that."

Outspoken Lightning coach John Tortorella was planning to take another look at the tape before commenting.

"Just let me watch the tape, OK?" Tortorella told The St. Petersburg Times. "It's easy to say giving up zones and this and that. But there were a lot of things that went on with the game. So let me watch the tape and make assessments then."

Chances are, he isn’t going to like what he sees. But neither are the goalies.

Want to be like Mike -- Show of hands, please if you want to be Mike Richards today. Who wouldn’t be? The young Philadelphia Flyers forward has more job security than the President of the United States after signing a 12-year contract with the club Thursday. Yes, indeed, 12 years. Richards doesn’t have to worry about renting now, and the Flyers don’t have to worry about his impending restricted free agency this summer.

“I think the threat is real,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said of the chance that a rival team could make an offer to Richards. “When you have young players that are going into a period of restricted free agency, it’s there. We didn’t want to get Mike into that situation.

“Having Mike done — he was one of our priorities. With the way he’s playing, it expedited the process. He’s a guy that was a priority.”

This season, Richards has averaged better than a point-per-game for the Flyers, but his value to the club extends way beyond goals and assists. Since he first joined the team in 2005-06, it’s been clear that Richards has the certain something that is hard to distinguish, but all the great players have it. Call it leadership, call it presence, call it “The It Factor”, whatever it is figures to make him a special player going forward. Look at it this way, through 29 games this season, he already has more goals and points than he put up in his first two seasons.

“I think Mike Richards brings a lot of intangibles to our team,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told’s Adam Kimelman. “Some are seen on the ice and some are unseen in terms of what he does in the locker room, his presence, the way he carries himself. Wearing a letter (alternate captain) this year at a young age, 22, speaks volumes to how the coaches and the organization feel about him as a young leader. He had the ‘A’ on last year a few times. Not only is he a good young player, he’s a good young leader.”

And he figures to be a good, old leader by the time the dozen seasons are up.

Shot it hard! -- The Edmonton Oilers again triumphed in a shootout and ended the Detroit Red Wings’ seven game winning streak thanks to Alex Hemsky, who took a simple tact on what to do against Dominik Hasek.

"I just came in and shot as hard as I could," Hemsky said after scoring the only goal of the shootout to lift the Oilers over Detroit, 4-3. "You never know what to expect from him. He's a pretty smart goalie."


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