Vinny Lecavalier wanted to light a fire under his own game, but he wound up sparking his team at the same time.
Lecavalier dropped the gloves early in Sunday's game in what many of his teammates pointed toward as an igniter for Tampa Bay's 5-1 victory against Philadelphia.
With the Lightning down a goal early, and the Flyers trying to spice things up, Lecavalier engaged with Philadelphia D Luke Schenn 5:09 into the game, dropping the gloves in a game for the first time since Feb. 3, 2009, when he went up against New York Islanders RW Tim Jackman.
"It usually just kind of happens, it's not a big deal," Lecavalier said. "It was just the second shift of the game, and it was actually good because I didn't like the first shift that I played so it sort of woke me up and after that it was good."
The Tampa Bay captain downplayed the moment, but his teammates didn't hesitate to share exactly what it meant.
"It set the tone, Vinny is not going to back down," C Steven Stamkos said. "He's shown those leadership qualities in the past and it definitely got the rink going, it got the guys on the bench ready and I think you just zone in after that. … It was great to see Vinny stick up for himself. We obviously don't want him to do that all the time, but when the time comes he answers the bell and our team responded."
Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher said the bench was almost too fired up after Lecavalier's fight.
"I had to calm the guys down," Boucher said. "After that you saw there was some emotion and I know the guys wanted to retaliate and show Vinny that they had his back. And I think after the emotion came down a little bit our players stayed focused the rest of the game."
Rookie pirate experience
Rookie LW Cory Conacher looked out the window of his hotel next door to the Tampa Convention Center and saw a sea of people on the streets below. So the 23-year-old ventured down to get a taste of his first Gasparilla pirate invasion celebration, watching the ship sail into town.
"It was hard to miss," Conacher said. "It was a neat experience. It was packed downtown and a lot of drama from some people, but it's good to have something like this in the city. It was an awesome feeling."
One part of the experience Conacher missed out on was collecting any of the many bead necklaces tossed around.
"I saw a lot of people get hit with beads, some people unaware of the beads coming," Conacher said. "But there were beads everywhere and I've never experienced anything like that before."
Sporting a 'stache
On the back of G Anders Lindback's mask is a small design of a handlebar type mustache. Lindback said he often has one on the back of his masks as a tribute to his father, Lars, who often keeps facial hair above his lip.
"My dad has always had a big mustache," Lindback said. "He usually has more of a straight mustache than the one I have on the back (of the mask)."
The Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay's affiliate in the American Hockey League, enter the AHL all-star break tied for the fourth-best record in the AHL but sit two points behind Binghamton in the East Division. The Crunch entered the break following a 6-3 victory against Saint John's on Saturday night.
Syracuse will have four players in the all-star game — forwards Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik along with defensemen Mark Barberio and Radko Gudas — as well as head coach Jon Cooper, who will serve as an assistant to Binghamton's Luke Richardson. The skills competition will take place Sunday while the game will be held Monday in Providence, R.I.
Nuts and Bolts
D Brendan Mikkelson, D Marc-Andre Bergeron and LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie were scratched. … As part of the 20th anniversary celebration, former G Daren Puppa was recognized as one of the top 20 Lightning personnel in franchise history. … Tampa Bay has goals from 12 different players through five games. … Conacher had his four-game scoring streak come to an end. … The Lightning have at least one power-play goal in four of five games this season.