ISLANDERS 6, LIGHTNING 2: Woes on defense, power play sink Tampa Bay.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2002
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- There the Lightning sat, stone-faced and silent. Center Dave Andreychuk had demanded every player sit in their locker room stalls and wait until reporters finished asking questions.
It could not have been pleasant. After Saturday night's 6-2 drubbing by the Islanders before a sellout crowd of 16,234 at Nassau Coliseum, there weren't going to be many easy inquiries.
The four-second period goals that turned a 1-0 Lightning lead into a 4-2 deficit were particularly painful, especially one by Mariusz Czerkawski that came 15 seconds after the drop of the puck.
Then there was Claude Lapointe's short-handed goal and the 0-for-4 power play that pushed Tampa Bay's streaks to 0-for-25 and 4-for-51.
But as Andreychuk said, "We decided we were all going to be accountable. Twenty guys played tonight. You're not just going to go to Kevin Weekes because he played goal."
"I'm glad it happened that way," coach John Tortorella said. "That's what it is, is accountability. You have to be accountable when things are going well, and you have to be accountable when things are going bad. And they're going very bad right now."
It was Tampa Bay's third loss on what has degenerated into a four-game road trip to nowhere that mercifully comes to an end Monday against the Rangers.
So far, the Lightning has been outscored 15-4.
So far, despite all the talk and Saturday morning's hourlong meeting, the team has yet to muster the urgency and emotion to compete, never mind trying to stay in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It was men among boys in the second period," said Weekes, who made 19 saves in his first start in 12 games. "I am very embarrassed by it. I don't even know anymore. I'm at a loss right now to analyze this. It's very difficult."
"I think we gave them this game," defenseman Jassen Cullimore said. "There were a few times it seemed like we didn't know what we were supposed to be doing."
Tortorella gave no argument.
"We're not even close to generating anything offensively," he said. "Each read we make on defense, it's the wrong read, and everything that could happen is happening. It's where we're at."
The Islanders, on the other hand, kept up the pressure, spending 27:24 in the Lightning zone. They also outhit Tampa Bay 44-19.
New York got two goals each from Czerkawski and Lapointe, and goaltender Chris Osgood, who returned after missing two games with tendinitis in his hand, made 23 saves and improved to 12-0 against Tampa Bay.
"I think they are trying to make the extra play instead of keeping it simple, chip the puck," Lapointe said. "There were a lot of turnovers at the blue line. You can't do that, especially against an offensive team like us."
Still, it was the Lightning that went ahead at 13:35 of the first period on Grant Ledyard's first goal of the season. And Vinny Lecavalier scored his 10th with 42.3 seconds left in the second.
In between it was a nightmare.
A giveaway by Pavel Kubina, a defenseman who played right wing with Andreychuk and Gordie Dwyer in an attempt to shake things up, led to Czerkawski's goal 15 seconds into the second period that set the tone for the rest of the game.
"That's our line," Andreychuk said. "A key shift. You have to be ready to play. To me that's the difference in the game."
Mathieu Biron's fall in the defensive zone led to the short-handed goal by Lapointe. A puck stolen from Brad Richards led to Lapointe's breakaway goal and a 4-1 New York lead.
Cullimore was minus-4. Biron, Lecavalier and Zdeno Ciger were minus-3.
"We have to go back to our style," Andreychuk said. "We have to work on defense first."
And be accountable.