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NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Tampa Bay

(Thursday, January 15th)

Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, Carolina 4

Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Martin St. Louis posted his second career hat trick in the first period, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to their fifth straight win with a 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Brad Richards had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, who improved to 5-0-4 in their last nine meetings with Carolina. Tampa Bay also posted its fourth consecutive win at home against the Hurricanes. Dave Andreychuk added a goal and an assist and Cory Stillman had three assists in the win.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 20 of the 24 shots he faced to preserve the triumph.

"Wins are tough to come by in this league. You take the two points and go," Lightning coach John Tortorella said.

Josef Vasicek finished with a goal and two assists for Carolina, which is winless in its last three games (0-2-1). The Hurricanes also dropped to 2-5-1 in their last eight. Ron Francis and Erik Cole each had a goal and an assist.

Carolina's Kevin Weekes gave up two goals on two shots and was replaced by Jamie Storr, who turned aside 21 shots in the loss.

The opening 20 minutes featured seven goals and a hat trick by St. Louis, who sparked the Lightning to a 5-2 lead.

Richards opened the flood gates just 35 seconds into the game when he beat Weekes for his eighth goal. Stillman fed the puck from the right boards to Richards, who snapped a shot past the goaltender's glove.

Tampa Bay grabbed a 2-0 lead at the 3:24 mark when St. Louis netted his first goal of the night. St. Louis deflected Brad Lukowich's slap shot through Weekes' legs, forcing Weekes to the bench with Storr coming in to replace him.

"That's what happens when we leave him hanging out to dry," Cole said about Weekes. "No goalie is going to stop the two goals that went in."

The Hurricanes then reached the scoreboard on Pavel Brendl's first goal of the season 30 seconds later. Brendl skated in on Khabibulin and stuffed the puck inside the left post.

St. Louis scored again midway through the period for a 3-1 score. Timothy Taylor was denied on a shot during a scramble in front, but St. Louis was in front to tip in the rebound.

Tampa Bay made it a 4-1 contest at 13:07 when St. Louis cashed in a power play for his second career hat trick. Stillman was stopped by Storr, but St. Louis made a great play by whacking the loose puck past the sprawling goaltender.

The Lightning continued to strike as Andreychuk registered his 1,300th point with a power-play goal at the 14:55 mark. Andreychuk was stationed to the right of Storr and deflected Stillman's shot high into the net to make it 5-1.

With 2:33 remaining in the first period, Francis lit the lamp on the power play for a 5-2 score. Vasicek almost beat Khabibulin with a quick wrister and Francis managed to snap the rebound past the netminder's left pad.

Carolina scored the only goal of the second period and pulled within 5-3 after Cole notched a power-play marker with 1:22 left. Vasicek was down low and passed the puck in the slot to Cole, whose one-timer sailed over Khabibulin's right shoulder.

Vasicek's 12th goal of the season midway through the third period completed the scoring. Vasicek one-timed a pass from Francis, beating Khabibulin high to the glove side.

"He was OK," Tortorella said of Khabibulin. "A game like this, we knew it was going to be a struggle. We knew it was going to be an interesting game."

Game Notes

St. Louis posted his first career hat trick against the Hurricanes on January 30, 2003. His three goals in 9:43 is the fastest in team history...Tampa Bay is 6-2-1 in its last nine games, but 3-6-2 in its last 11 at home...Carolina is 3-8-2 in its last 13 at Tampa Bay...The Hurricanes fell to 1-4-0-1 in their last six road games...Stillman's three assists in the first period tied a team record...Both teams finished 2-for-5 with the man advantage.

01/15 23:28:05 ET

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