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Lightning loses close one again

SENATORS 2, LIGHTNING 1: A shot off the post and a missed penalty shot send Tampa Bay to its 15th one-goal loss.

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 13, 2002

TAMPA -- The difference in winning and losing by one goal, as the Lightning has done frequently this season, sometimes can be measured in inches.

Such as the width of a steel pipe painted red.

Trailing by one goal with nine minutes left against Ottawa on Saturday at the Ice Palace, the Lightning's Fredrik Modin nearly stopped the inevitable.

Instead, his shot hit the post, and the annual January swoon continues.

Tampa Bay, which failed to score on a penalty shot with 5.3 seconds left, lost 2-1 before an announced 13,712 to push its home losing streak to six. It's the 15th time this season the Lightning has lost by one goal.

Tampa Bay has lost seven of its past eight, including in overtime to Boston on Dec.29, but still stands eight points behind the Devils for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Todd White put the Senators ahead 1-0, and Radek Bonk broke a tie with a power-play goal 12:40 into the second period.

Brad Richards scored the Lightning's only goal.

Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin was sharp again, stopping 23 shots in his fourth consecutive start.

The Senators took a 1-0 lead on just their second shot when Ricard Persson's wrist shot from the left circle was deflected by White and past Khabibulin.

While the teams combined for 13 shots in the first period, Jani Hurme saw little action through the first 10 minutes.

Hurme, who stopped 33 shots, is the Senators' second-string goalie but always has played well against the Lightning. He was 5-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average and two shutouts against the Lightning entering this season.

The Lightning went eight minutes without a shot on goal, a stretch that ended when Modin managed a backhand with 10:04 left.

Twenty-one seconds later, Richards skated into the Senators zone, with only Persson between him and Hurme.

Richards pulled up and looked to pass.

When he didn't see anybody skating toward the slot, he shot.

The puck floated over Hurme's left shoulder.

The goal was Richards' first in six games and only his second point during that span.

Ben Clymer got an assist for his first point in nine games.

Defenseman Jassen Cullimore also got an assist, his first point in five games.

It marked only the second time in five games the Lightning had scored in the first period.

The Senators took a 2-1 lead with 7:20 left in the second period on their only power play of the game.

A power play for the Lightning had expired moments before it was whistled for having too many men on the ice with 9:11 left.

Center Radek Bonk fooled both Tampa Bay defensemen and Khabibulin with a backhand into the net. It was Bonk's 14th goal of the season.

Lightning left wing Dave Andreychuk nearly set up a goal for Vinny Lecavalier on Tampa Bay's power play.

Andreychuk, who needs one assist to move past Bobby Orr for 46th place on the career assist list, sent a pass under Hurme and toward Lecavalier, who couldn't get a stick on it.

Tampa Bay got a two-man advantage with 1:41 left game when Mike Fisher was called for tripping. Lightning coach John Tortorella pulled Khabibulin after calling a timeout.

Hurme was called for intentionally knocking the goal off of its moorings with 5.3 seconds left. Martin St. Louis took the shot.

But Hurme smothered the puck in his pads.


WHEN/WHERE: 7; Philips Arena, Atlanta.


THE LOWDOWN: The Thrashers, who won their 10th game of the season Friday, feature two of the league's top rookies. Ilya Kovalchuk leads all rookies in goals (20) and is second in assists (15). Teammate Dany Heatley is tied for second with 16 goals and has a rookie-leading 19 assists. The Lightning had allowed just 94 goals. Atlanta has scored 105, and its 28 points are fewest in the league. G Damian Rhodes is questionable (groin strain) for the Thrashers, who have allowed a league-worst 165 goals. This is the third meeting between the teams this season and first since Nov.29. The Lightning won that game 5-2 but trail the all-time series 5-6-1. Though Tampa Bay's offense has been woeful, the penalty kill ranked sixth overall (87.7 percent) and fourth on the road (88.9) through Friday. The Lightning is 4-4-2 in its past 10 road games. Expect backup G Kevin Weekes (2-6-0, .934 save percentage) to start for the Lightning. It will be his first start in five games and third in nine games.

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