St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Lightning

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A comeback, just not a victory

LIGHTNING 2, SABRES 2: Tampa Bay has the best chances late but settles for a point.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 18, 2002

TAMPA -- The puck was on his stick. The game was in his hands.

Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier closed on Sabres goaltender Marty Biron and fired to an upper corner of the net. Biron anticipated perfectly and made a terrific glove save 1:08 into overtime.

The save, along with overtime stops on Pavel Kubina and Dan Boyle, not to mention Brad Richards' prime chance that went just wide of the net, preserved a tie at 2 for the Sabres Sunday night at the Ice Palace.

It also continued a frustrating season for Lecavalier, who is without a point in seven games and saw his ice time fall to 11:41, a season low for games in which he was not injured.

"It would have been great," Lecavalier said of scoring. "But no regrets. I think I made the right play."

Lecavalier, with 13 goals, 14 assists in 61 games, said he wants more ice time.

"I do want to play more. There's no secret about it," he said. "I'm happy for the team. We're playing well. But I don't think I'm satisfied with 12 minutes when last year I was getting 23."

The Lightning, 2-0-2 in its past four games, can take satisfaction with the tie that gave it 59 points, equaling last season's total.

The Sabres outplayed the Lightning in the second period, in which they held a 14-8 shot advantage and took a 2-1 lead on goals by Taylor Pyatt and James Patrick.

Dave Andreychuk gave the Lightning a 1-0 first-period lead with a score that gave Tampa Bay power-play goals in a team-record nine consecutive games.

Sheldon Keefe tied the score with 2:10 left in the second period on a tip-in of Vinny Prospal's pass. Nikolai Khabibulin made 21 saves.

With the forecheck finally clicking, the Lightning dominated the third period and overtime, outshooting the Sabres 12-2 to even the shots at 24.

Lecavalier almost took over the overtime, which would have been appropriate on a night when 5,000 Lecavalier bobblehead dolls were given away in 35 minutes.

He fed Richards for a late chance, but the puck wouldn't settle on Richards' stick and he shot wide.

"I had him out there a little more (in the overtime) and I thought he played well," coach John Tortorella said of Lecavalier. "I thought he worked very hard on the four-on-four.

" ... It's black and white here. If you play hard and do the things with the puck and away from it, you're going to play."

"I'm working hard every shift and every time I go out there I do my best," Lecavalier said. "Every time I go out there I'll work hard and get (my ice time) back."

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