For the second season in a row, the Lightning has trumped it's eastern conference rival for the duration of the NHL season... Completing a 4 game sweep of Philadelphia and keeping itself alive in the face of adversity and playing itself out of contention since the Olympic break.
Of course, the game had it's moments.
The Lightning dominated on the power play which gave fans in the arena and watching at home memories for the 2004 Eastern Conference Final where the Lightning could do no wrong with the man advantage, scoring 3 power play goals to ultimately win their 8th straight game versus the Flyers.
Peter Forsberg opened scoring... Or should I say Pavel Kubina? Forsberg shot on Grahame rebounded off Kubina's skate and went right behind Grahame -- who continued his knack for committing for far too long on a save. Grahame can also ultimately be blamed for over-aggressiveness which led to Niko Dimitrakos unassisted goal late in the 3rd period .
But I think what stood out was the ridiculousness of penalties tonight. Derian Hatcher was given a five minute major for boarding Brad Richards 59 seconds into the 3rd period. He was also given a game misconduct for chasing Pavel Kubina after officials had settled down a melee after his hit on Richards. The hit was not a five minute major -- though a damn good, rough knock on Richards and a penalty all the same.
Of course, that gets trumped by Referee Incompetence later in the period. Vincent Lecavalier scores a rap-around goal on Robert Esche and then ggets drilled by a vicious cross check from Dennis Gauthier after the goal was scored... Vinny retaliates, attacking Gauthier and what happens?
2-5-10-10 assessed to Lecavalier. Instigator, Fighting, Misconduct and Game Misconduct.
Dennis Gauthier gets off without a single minute in penalties.
But I guess the sheer stupidity of the bumbling by goalies and by officials can be overlooked. The Lightning looked good on ice tonight and played well, which I can't say they have been doing much of lately. Ryan Craig has his first multi-goal game of his career, Brad Richards breaks the 20 goal plateau for the 4th time in his career.
The Bolts are alive, kicking... and have swept the Flyers under the rug for the 2005-06 season.