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Closed Door Meeting Sparks Bolts To Record Romp Written by Laci Bloomers - January 13th, 2009

January 13, 2009

One day after a what veteran Rod Brind A'mour called "a shameful performance in a must-win situation" for the Tampa Bay Lightning, a players-only closed door meeting looks to have sparked some life into the Lightning.

Brind A'mour was visibly upset after talking to reporters post game yesterday, a game that the Bolts tied the Atlanta Thrashers 1-1.  The mild mannered veteran stated "no wonder our fans don't want to buy tickets, this team plays like its heart has stopped beating."

Fast forward 24 hours.  A club that desperately needed a win over the Thrashers to close in on a playoff spot before the All-Star game gained a point, but it wasn't enough.  Brind A'mour held a players only meeting this morning, insisting that every player on the team attend even though today was an optional light skate only for the team.

"Some things were said that needed to be said." stated Brind A'mour after the skate, which every player took part in.  "We have a group of players who collectively must look in the mirror.  Inconsistent efforts from everybody in that room, myself included, have stalled our season."

With the tie last night, the club had gone an unbelievable 15 games in a row without back-to-back wins or back-to-back losses.

Tonight the Lightning ran that streak to 16 games.  "3-game undefeated streak." is how Ray Whitney put it, after the Lightning set a club high for goals in a game with a 9-1 romp over the Boston Bruins.  The Bruins, sitting in one of those Eastern Conference playoff spots, never had a chance, as the Lightning greeted their fans with spark not seen here all season.

A line shuffling seemed to add some chemistry that had been AWOL, and Brind A'mour and his nes line-mates showed early that they would lead the way.

Coming out strong early, the Lightning were finally rewarded when defenceman Mike Commodore stripped a frazzled Bruin of the puck, breaking in and beating goaltender Chris Mason from inside the blueline for his 4th of the season, unassisted.

Two minutes later Brind A'mour scored his 19th of the season from line-mates Jere Lehtinen and Fernando Pisani.  Two shifts later, Pisani got his 8th with assists from his line-mates.  Enver Lisen beat Bolts' goaltender Robert Esche in the final linute of the first period as it closed 3-1.

Bobby Holik scored the only goal of the second period at 8:43, his 13th of the season, set up by his line-mates for the game Mike Knuble and Whitney.

The Lightning blitzed the Bruins to start the third period.  D-man Mike Rathje did exactly what Commodore had done in the opening period, scoring unassisted just 1:38 into the period.  Then, the newly formed line of Rob Neidermayer, Alex Radulov and Scott Walker went to work.  Neidermayer scored his 4th of the season from his wingers at 2:19, and then repeated it at 6:33 to make it 7-1.

Roman Hamrlik got his 9th of the season from Pisani and Dan McGillis before the period was half over, and Denis Gauthier became the 4th D-man to score at 15:36 when he picked up his 6th from Walker and Radulov to finish the romp.

Gauthier finished with a +5 for the game.  Pisani, Walker and Radulov all finished with 3 points.

The Lightning outshot Boston 39-25, with Esche winning his first start in a while.  With the win, the Bolts sit 2 points back of 8th place in the Conference with 3 games to go till the halfway point in the season.  They travel to Raleigh to play the Hurricanes, return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets and then return to Atlanta to meet the Thrashers to wrap up the first half of their season schedule.

In Macon, Steve Mason picked up a shutout and David Moss scored his 19th of the season to lead the Whoopee to a 4-0 win.  Jeff Hamilton, Dustin Boyd and Mike Weber also scored for the Whoopee, who trail False Cree by a single point for first place overall in the ICHF.



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