TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—The Great One is impressed by Vincent Lecavalier.
“He’s just a tremendous talent,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “He’s a great athlete.”
Lecavalier has a career-high 37 goals this season, five shy of tying Brian Bradley’s team record set during the 1992-93 season.
“He can be good a lot throughout a year, but he’s being great more consistently,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. “He has the ability and he’s beginning to do that. That’s a key for our hockey team.”
Lecavalier has scored a goal in 14 of 18 games.
“I’m happy the way things are going now,” Lecavalier said. “It feels good. Every year I tell myself I want to do a little bit better production wise. I was happy last year with 35 (goals). To pass it now I’m happy, but there’s still a lot of games left.”
Richards put the Lightning ahead 4-3 with his 20th goal of the season at 1:24 of the third. He has reached the mark in five of his six NHL seasons.
“We never gave up the lead and found a way with the power play to start the third period,” Richards said.
“They have one of the best, if not the best, transition team in the league,” Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. “They’ve got some guys that if you’re not careful, you catch yourself watching them because they’re so talented.”
Lecavalier put the Lightning ahead 3-2 with a breakaway goal at 15:19 of the first.
Tampa Bay had taken a 2-0 lead eight minutes in on goals by Lecavalier and St. Louis. Goals by Zigomanis and Saprykin tied it midway through the period.
The Coyotes pulled even at 3 on Morris’ first goal in 26 games, scored with 1:44 left in the second.
“We wouldn’t quit,” Doan said. “I had probably three really good opportunities to score a goal and I didn’t do it. When they got their opportunity, they did and that’s the difference.”
Saprykin skated slowly off the ice late in the second after blocking a pair of shots with his legs. He returned for the third period.
Phoenix RW Owen Nolan didn’t play due to a sore neck. “He took warmup and he said he couldn’t play,” Gretzky said. … Lecavalier has six goals and 12 points in 11 games against Phoenix. … Coyotes C Yanic Perreault returned after missing one game with an injured shoulder. … LW Mathias Tjarnqvist, acquired by Phoenix on Monday from Dallas for Ladislav Nagy, was in the lineup. … Tampa Bay LW Ruslan Fedotenko had two assists in the third to reach 200 NHL points.