Brad Richards scores four points to lead Lightning over Penguins 5-1

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Brad Richards had a goal and three assists, Martin St. Louis matched a career-high with his 38th goal and Vincent Lecavalier added his 41st to lift the Southeast Division-leading Lightning past the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Sunday night.

The Lightning, beaten 6-2 by Boston on Friday, have not dropped consecutive games since Dec. 26-28. Tampa Bay is 17-4-1 in the last 22 contests.

"That's what I'm happy about tonight, it was a good answer," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella. "You don't put yourself into a jam having a couple of them. I thought we played right on through a pretty solid game, especially away from the puck. Getting better away from the puck transforms into offence."

Paul Ranger and Filip Kuba also scored for the Lightning, who have a 12-game winning streak against Pittsburgh. Tortorella earned his 200th victory with the Lightning.

Richards has helped set up 12 goals during an eight-game assist streak. His goal 1:31 into the third gave Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead.

"That was the biggest thing going into today, I think we all kind of knew we better come up with a good effort and get a good start," Richards said. "We haven't lost two in a row in a long time. That's been good for this team."

Lecavalier's short-handed goal later in the third moved him within one of tying Brain Bradley's team record, set during the 1992-93 season.

Sergei Gonchar scored for the Penguins, who lost for only the fourth time in 19 games.

"We're a team that's supposed to care," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "It's a great opportunity for us to see who wants to bounce back."

The Lightning took charge early, grabbing a quick 2-0 lead when St. Louis scored on a power-play rebound at 2:17 and Ranger tallied at 3:56.

Richards nearly extended the lead to three, but his in-close chance late in the first was stopped by sliding Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault. Tampa Bay outshot the Penguins 10-1 in the opening nine minutes, and 14-4 during the period.

"We've talked about this time of the year not to lose two in a row and bounce back," St. Louis said. "We've done that for a while now. That's key."

Kuba put the Lightning ahead 3-0 on Tampa Bay's first shot of the second at 4:58. Thibault, who allowed three goals on 15 shots, was pulled after the goal in favour of Marc-Andre Fleury.

"As a coach, you've got to try and change the momentum," Therrien said. "Nothing was working."

Gonchar cut the Penguins' deficit to 3-1 during a 5-on-3 power play at 8:26. Sidney Crosby (10 assists, 11 points) and Evgeni Malkin (seven assists, 10 points) both extended point streaks to seven games by assisting on the goal.

"It's tough," Crosby said. "They just seemed to carry the play, especially in the first. They took it to us. We have to move on. We have a lot of games to play."

Tampa Bay's Johan Holmqvist made 17 saves.

Notes: Crosby has one goal in 13 games. He does have 18 assists over the stretch. ... Crosby has 199 NHL points in one-plus seasons. ... Tortorella said D Shane O'Brien, acquired from Anaheim on Saturday, will make his Lightning debut Tuesday against Dallas. ... Thibault made his second straight start in place of benched regular Fleury and third in four games after only two appearances in 23 contests. ... Fleury gave up two goals on nine shots.


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