Hockey Night in suburban Chicago

Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis were keys to the Tampa Bay Lightning's Stanley Cup win in 2004.

The way they've been appearing on the scoresheet lately, they appear intent on bringing another championship to Florida's Gulf Coast.

In a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night, Lecavalier and St. Louis each extended their respective points streaks to 11 games and both are coming up on a team record.

St. Louis has 10 goals and 10 assists, while Lecavalier has eight goals and 10 assists during their respective runs. The franchise record for the longest points streak is 13 straight games, held by Brian Bradley (1992), St. Louis (2004) and Vaclav Prospal (2005).

"We're starting to find our identity and playing together," St. Louis said. "We're scoring goals. In this league, you score four, five goals a game, you find yourself on the winning end most nights."

When Tampa Bay won it all in 2004, St. Louis -- generously listed at 5-foot-9 -- had has best season as a pro, tallying 38 goals, including eight short-handed markers, and 94 points. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with 24 points in 23 games. Three of his nine goals were game-winners.

Lecavlier had the second of his three career 30-goal seasons ... which makes me ask this: has there been a more non-descript top overall pick then Lecavalier. He's never score more than 35 goals, and has averaged less than 60 points per season in his first seven years.

Good? Yes. Great? No. Hall of Famer? I've got a better chance of induction.

Face it -- Vincent Lecavalier ... hockey's answer to supermarket-brand vanilla ice cream.

BLOWN AWAY: I'm amazed Carolina's Erik Cole wasn't carrying a grudge heading into the Hurricanes' game Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If I were on the same ice as the player who nearly ended my career, I might go with a swinging, two-handed chop.

Cole had a breakout season in 2005-06 with Carolina, setting career highs with 30 goals and 59 points in 60 games. On March 4, after scoring two goals in his second consecutive game, Cole suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck when Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik rammed him into the boards.

The injury was expected to keep Cole out until training camp, but the left wing returned to play Games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, helping Carolina to its first championship.

"It's never going to heal fully," Cole said in June before the Cup-clinching win over Edmonton. "I'm always going to be at a slighter risk. I am going to be at this risk for my entire life."

Meanwhile, the NHL suspended Orpik for three games.

Cole assisted on two first-period goals in a 6-2 win.


BACK ME UP: Nashville's Chris Mason made 42 saves in the Predators' 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Mason has four career shutouts in 34 starts over three-plus seasons ...

DEVILISHLY GOOD POWER PLAY: New Jersey Devils' power-play unit scores three times in 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Devs had been 2 for 29 with the man advantage over the last five games ...

QUICK STRIKE: Daniel Briere scores 21 seconds into overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Two nights ago, the Sabres' Thomas Vanek scored 19 seconds into OT to beat Florida.


THRASHING ABOUT: Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen has allowed 17 goals in his last four starts ...

POWERLESS PENGUINS: Pittsburgh loses its fifth in a row after a 6-2 loss to Carolina ...

HABS NOT: Montreal Canadiens goaltender David Aebischer is lifted late in the second period of a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs after giving up four goals on 28 shots ...


"If we were 9-4 instead of 4-11, you might say, 'Oh well, we played well. Let's get ready for our next game.' We can't afford to give any points away. Our effort was strong, but that's not good enough." -- Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky after his team lost 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks.

No comments: