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Lightning move on

Sweep over Montreal puts Tampa in first conference finals

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2004

MONTREAL Brad Richards finished what Vincent Lecavalier started and the Tampa Bay Lightning swept their way to the conference finals for the first time.

Richards scored his second straight winning goal and the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 Thursday night. Tampa Bay handed the Canadiens their first series sweep since Buffalo did it in the second round in 1998.

The Lightning had never advanced past the second round in their first 11 NHL seasons, but now will have time off before facing either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Philadelphia Flyers with a trip to the Stanley Cup finals on the line.

''I think as you go through trying to get 16 wins to win a Stanley Cup you need to have some time to heal,'' Lightning coach John Tortorella said. ''To get a series done four straight is certainly going to help us because we have some guys banged up.''

The Flyers lead the Maple Leafs 2-1 and the earliest they can advance is Sunday.

Fredrik Modin scored into an empty net with 55.3 seconds remaining for the Lightning, who have won seven straight playoff games since losing Game 2 to the New York Islanders in the first round.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 27 shots, allowing only Niklas Sundstrom's goal 5:46 in. Khabibulin, who has allowed nine goals in nine games, leads NHL goalies with four shutouts and a 0.99 goals-against-average in the playoffs.

''Nic has been the backbone of the team and everybody else has contributed,'' Tortorella said. ''That's what has to happen.''

Red Wings 4, Flames 2

CALGARY, Alberta Mathieu Dandenault rescued the Detroit Red Wings from an 18-second collapse that could've wrecked their season.

The defenseman scored his first goal of the postseason midway through the third period as the top-seeded Red Wings beat the Calgary Flames 4-2 Thursday night and evened the second-round playoff series 2-2.

Martin Gelinas and Ville Nieminen scored for the Flames 18 seconds apart in the second period to tie the game at 2 before Dandenault got the lead back for the Red Wings.

Tomas Holmstrom fired a shot that Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff got a piece of. The puck squirted through his legs and lay in the crease, where Dandenault nudged it over the line to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead with 9:58 left.

Game 5 of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series is Saturday in Detroit.

Kirk Maltby and Boyd Devereaux also scored for the Red Wings, and Henrik Zetterberg had added an empty-net goal in the final minute. Ray Whitney and Kris Draper had two assists each.

Just about everyone in the chanting, flag-waving crowd of 17,289 wore either a Calgary jersey, a shirt with a Flames logo, or something red. One fan was dressed in full hockey gear, including a helmet with a face shield, and skates.

Gelinas started the Flames' comeback at 5:45 of the second period. Jarome Iginla got the puck out from a scrum in front of the Detroit net and backhanded a pass to Gelinas, who beat Curtis Joseph with a shot to the high side.

The crowd was still cheering that goal when Nieminen tied it at 6:03.

Shean Donovan, sprawled on the ice, slipped the puck to Nieminen, who waited for Joseph to go down before tucking the puck into the corner of the net.

Detroit quickly called a time out and the crowd began the chants of ''Cujo, Cujo.''

Just moments later, Joseph celebrating his 37th birthday stopped Nieminen on a two-on-one breakaway.

In the closing seconds, and the game no longer in doubt, Nieminen slammed into Joseph and knocked him back into the goal. Nieminen drilled him high, and Joseph held his head while lying flat on his back.

Nieminen was given a major penalty for charging and was ejected.

Maltby's goal 26 seconds into the game seemed to put the Flames on their heels and energize the Red Wings.

Calgary went over 10 minutes without recording a shot while Detroit efficiently controlled play. The Flames finally regrouped and began applying pressure on the Red Wings in the last half of the period.

Devereaux made it 2-0 three minutes into the second period when his shot from the top of the circle went through the legs of Calgary defenseman Steve Montador and past a screened Kiprusoff. Notes: The Flames are 6-2 in series they've led 2-1. They lost in 1993 to Los Angeles and 1994 to Vancouver. ... Since 1990, the Red Wings are 3-2 in series they trailed 2-1. ... The average age of Calgary's defensemen is 24, compared to 31 for the Red Wings. ... Flames president Ken King said the team's playoff could help it turn ''a modest profit'' this season.



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