Richards, Carter help Flyers soar over Lightning

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TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Captain Mike Richards and All-Star

Jeff Carter are proving the Philadelphia Flyers knew what they

were doing at the 2003 draft.

Richards recorded two goals and an assist and Carter also scored

twice as the Philadelphia Flyers stormed past the Tampa Bay

Lightning, 6-1, on Friday.

With the two goals, Carter raised his season total to 32,

putting him one ahead of Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the

league lead.

Scott Hartnell and defenseman Randy Jones each netted a tally

and set up another for the Flyers, who had won just one of their

previous five road games (1-2-2).

Antero Niittymaki made 41 saves and also registered an assist

for Philadelphia. One of the stops by the Finnish goaltender,

who improved to 10-2-2 in his last 14 starts, came on a penalty

shot by All-Star Martin St. Louis early in the third period.

"I felt pretty good," Niittymaki said. "I had a lot of work,

but I was able to see most of the shots. I got lucky a couple

of times, and that's all you need."

Former Flyer Vaclav Prospal scored the lone goal for the

Lightning, who had two tallies disallowed en route to having

their three-game home winning streak snapped.

"The score doesn't indicate, but it's a loss," said Tampa Bay's

Ryan Malone, whose team had won seven of its previous nine home

meetings with Philadelphia. "I give them credit. They did what

they had to do to get the job done."

Entering with just one goal in his previous 12 games, Richards

got things started for Philadelphia in this one. On a partial

breakaway, the 24th overall pick in 2003 faked a slap shot from

the slot and drifted to his left before sliding the puck around

fallen goaltender Mike Smith and into the vacant net at 7:03 of

the first period.

"The puck kind of followed me tonight a little bit," Richards

said. "I feel I was getting the chances before. I just wasn't

getting the results. I felt good (after) a couple days off for

the All-Star break."

After Jones gave the Flyers a 2-1 edge during a power play just

over eight minutes into the middle session, the 23-year-old

Richards chased down a loose puck at the left hash marks and

wristed it past Smith with 5:19 remaining to double the lead.

"A lot of it lately has been kind of my play, just turning pucks

over and not moving my feet," Richards said of his recent

struggles. "I felt like I lacked energy in the game. Tonight,

I felt good."

Philadelphia coach John Stevens credited Richards for his

impressive effort after having absorbed the blame in the media

for Tuesday's loss at Florida.

"He's an up-front guy, taking all the bullets," Stevens said.

"I had this feeling he would have a good game today because

sometimes a players gets in that position and they're going to

deflect the blame somewhere else. He always takes the blame

himself and he always wants to make a difference."

Selected 13 spots before Richards in 2003, Carter made it 4-1

with a shot from the blue line that got by a screened Smith at

7:59 of the third. Hartnell tallied less than three minutes

later, and the 24-year-old Carter completed his sixth two-goal

performance of the season with 6:52 to go.

Picking up the puck at the blue line, Carter skated down the

left side and cut toward the net to thwart an oncoming defender

before gliding across the doorstep and lifting the puck past

Smith.

That ended the night for the 26-year-old goalie, who made 26

saves. Riku Helenius, who was drafted 15th overall in 2006,

came on and stopped both shots he faced in his NHL debut.

After Prospal forged a 1-1 tie with a man-advantage goal with

2:05 left in the first period, another former Flyer appeared to

give the Lightning the lead with time winding down.

Veteran Mark Recchi saw the puck go off his left skate and past

Niittymaki with 38 seconds to go in the session, but following a

lengthy video review, it was ruled a distinct kicking motion was

made, negating the tally.

"I didn't kick it in, and if they had (expletive) common sense,

they would know it hit my feet so quick," Recchi said. "That

was a big difference in the game. They made the wrong call, and

if you look in fast motion, there's no way I can react to the

puck. It hits my shin pad, hits the top of my foot and goes in

the net. It's a terrible call on their part."

Just over five minutes into the third, St. Louis was hooked from

behind by Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen, setting up a

penalty shot. But Niittymaki got his glove on the former Hart

Trophy winner's shot, keeping St. Louis scoreless on four career

penalty-shot attempts.

Two minutes later, Tampa Bay thought it pulled within 3-2 as

rookie Steven Stamkos batted the puck out of mid-air and past

Niittymaki. But the replay officials again stymied the

Lightning, ruling the 2008 first overall pick's stick was above

the crossbar when he made contact with the puck.

"I'm 100 percent sure (it wasn't a high stick)," the 18-year-old

Stamkos said. "Sometimes you see guys aren't sure, they look

back at the referee to see if it's a goal, but I was sure.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I know where it hit on my stick. I didn't

hit the puck initially in the air, I hit it on the way down.

It's a tough one to swallow."

The Flyers knew they were fortunate to have the calls go their

way.

"We obviously got a few breaks, a couple of goals disallowed,"

Stevens said. "It's not often you see your team get two breaks

like that, but I think we were due for some breaks."

"When the goals happened, I didn't think about them not being

goals," Niittymaki said. "They were both probably tough goals.

I mean, the referee was spending a lot of time with those

headphones, so I'm sure they were double-checking them a couple

times."

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