St. Petersburg Times
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Lightning returns to last year's form in loss

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO and BRUCE LOWITT
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002

TAMPA -- This was the kind of game the Lighting was trying to get away from -- the 19 one-goal losses from last season. But with the higher scorers on the St. Pete Times Forum ice Saturday night, a third-period penalty shot by Columbus defenseman Duvie Westcott beat Tampa Bay 2-1 before an announced 11,269.

"I think in some ways we perhaps came in looking for an easy night, coming off an eight-goal performance the night before (in Atlanta), and we had our big guys in the lineup," said Lightning assistant coach Craig Ramsay, who worked behind the bench while coach John Tortorella watched from the press box. " ... I don't think we had the same level of desperation that we had (Friday)."

Westcott was hauled down from behind by Pavel Kubina 11 minutes, 48 seconds into the third period.

Ramsay called the decision to award a penalty shot "expected. I think the league in fact kind of likes penalty shots. (Westcott) was ahead of him. (Kubina) put a pretty good wallop on him. I had no problem with that (call)."

Westcott took the puck at center ice, skated in on reserve Lightning goalie Evgeny Konstantinov, went left, cut right and scored.

"We really thought he had the save," Ramsay said. "I think he thought he had it as well, but maybe his positioning was a little off and he couldn't get his foot to the post."

The Lightning goal came early in the third period when Nikita Alexeev, surrounded by three Blue Jackets, tied the game with an unassisted goal that beat backup goalie Pascal Leclaire.

Nikolai Khabibulin, playing in his first exhibition game, stopped 13 shots but gave up the first Columbus goal to Brad Moran.

* * *

First period -- None.

Second period -- 1, Columbus, Reich 1 (Moran, Marshall), 9:34.

Third period -- 2, Tampa Bay, Alexeev 1, 2:56. 3, Columbus, Westcott 1 (penalty shot), 11:58.

Shots on goal -- Columbus 7-7-9-23. Tampa Bay 6-7-8-21. Goalies -- Columbus, Labbe, Leclaire. Tampa Bay, Khabibulin, Konstantinov. Attendance -- 11,269 (19,758).

Notes

"It felt like I got kicked," Hodson said

NET MINDERS: The black nets rising 36 feet above the 8-foot Plexiglass at the ends of the rink kept pucks out of the stands and prompted varying opinions.

While Andy Faught of St. Petersburg said, "It doesn't bother me at all, I can see right through it," Carl Streim of Spring Hill found it distracting.

"It's not so much that you can't see through it, you can," he said. "But when it bunches up in the corner, it kind of startles you. I'm going to have to get used to this."

Lightning spokesman Bill Wickett said he believes the NHL "reached the best possible scenario when it comes to better protecting fans while allowing them to fully enjoy the game."

JUGGLING LINES: Coach John Tortorella said there might be surprises on left wing.

One might be the switch of Fredrik Modin from what was thought to be the No. 1 line with center Richards and Martin St. Louis.

Modin played Friday with center Vinny Prospal and Ben Clymer. On Saturday, left wing Nikita Alexeev played on Richards' line. Center Vinny Lecavalier played with left wing Ruslan Fedotenko and Shane Willis.

Ramsay did not deny possible moves.

"We're going to put people on the third or fourth lines who can score," he said. "That will give us the depth and competition needed to take the next step."

CUTS: Tampa Bay made roster moves a day earlier than expected.

Left wing Ryan Tobler, right wing Matt Elich, goaltender Brian Eklund and defenseman Harlan Pratt were assigned to AHL Springfield.

Right wing Aaron Lobb was assigned to OHL Guelph, right wing Evgeni Artukhin was assigned to QMJHL Moncton and center Jean-Francois Soucy was assigned to QMJHL Montreal

Defenseman Rudy Poeschek was released, ending his comeback try.


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