A tie and a record: Lightning unbeaten through four
LIGHTNING 3, PENGUINS 3: Resilient Tampa Bay scores two goals in the third period to rally and earn a point on the road.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 20, 2002
PITTSBURGH -- In the matter of earning respect around the NHL, the Lightning took another step Saturday night.
It is not a subject Tampa Bay coaches or players are all that comfortable discussing. Center Tim Taylor said it is almost better if the league does not know about the apparently new and improved Lightning, because it is easier to sneak up on teams.
Who knew the Lightning was so bad at keeping a secret?
Tampa Bay made a statement in its tie at 3 with the Penguins at Mellon Arena. The team came from behind three times, including twice in the third period without Vinny Lecavalier, who is day to day with a sprained right knee.
"They came in and worked hard," Penguins left wing Dan LaCouture said. "They are a much-improved team. I give them a lot of credit."
"They are a very good hockey team," Penguins coach Rick Kehoe said. "They outworked us tonight. We were very lucky to get the point."
Pittsburgh can thank Johan Hedberg, who made 38 saves as the Lightning outshot the Penguins 41-29.
But the goalie couldn't stop Martin St. Louis' goal 1:28 into the third period that tied it at 2 or Dan Boyle's knuckle-balling wrist shot from the slot that tied it at 3 on a power play at 9:05.
In between, Alexei Kovalev gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
The victory increased the Lightning's franchise-record, season-opening unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1), snapped a five-game losing streak at Pittsburgh and ended the Penguins' three-game winning streak.
It also was the second game in which Tampa Bay earned points after trailing in the third period.
"We know we can play with anyone, especially coming from behind," said Boyle, who played a team-high 24:52. "But we'd like to play from the lead for a change to see how that works."
What was so encouraging was how the Lightning worked without Lecavalier. The center, who has three goals and four assists, said he hurt his knee in the first period when he fell, untouched, taking a shot. He said he wore a brace in the second period but could not continue.
His presence was missed in a failed 1:40 five-on-three and a failed man advantage that began with 2:01 left in regulation as the Lightning went 1-for-9 on the power play.
Tampa Bay went to three lines after Lecavalier's injury (all those gassers during training camp paid off), never relented (despite getting to Pittsburgh at 2:30 a.m. after Friday night's 8-5 barn-burner win over the Thrashers in Tampa) and got a terrific game from Nikolai Khabibulin.
The goalie made 26 saves, including a dazzling left-leg stop late in the second period on Aleksey Morozov, who got a perfect feed in the slot from Mario Lemieux.
Speaking of Lemieux, he was held to one assist after getting four goals and six assists his previous three games.
His helper came on Jan Hrdina's first-period power-play goal. Tampa Bay's Ben Clymer, who also got an assist, tied it at 1 at 3:45 of the second period. LaCouture gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead at 7:57.
"It's tough to play against them," Khabibulin said. "They get on the rush and they have people who can finish it. In that way it's hard. Every time you make a mistake, you pay for it."
But the Lightning, playing to win instead of, as it did for so much of last season, merely to survive, has earned at least as much back to make it a worthy investment.
"We as a team are not concerned with what people think about us," coach John Tortorella said. "We will continue to work and try to get points. We're just going day to day. We're very happy with the club and the way we battled and still found a way to get a point."
Like it or not, people are starting to notice.
Back to the Lightning
LightningA tie and a record: Lightning unbeaten through four
Andreychuk moving up list for longevity
RaysBoth sides upbeat after Rays, Lou finally meet
Rays cut prices, vary packages
BucsBucs hope they pass Eagles test
Gruden, Reid have Packer ties
A sensitive QB killa? That's No. 99
A-Train a prototype for future fullbacks
Bulls lift travel troubles
Numerous penalties hobble Gator offense
Receiver continues trend with 50th catch
Florida: By the numbers
Numbers keep piling up for Blackwell
Bulls content with modest road streak
South Florida: By the numbers
Notre Dame 21, Air Force 14
State: FAMU keeps MEAC hopes alive with win over Aggies
Vanderbilt bus crashes before game
ACC: Wolfpack avoids Blue Devil upset
SEC: Beard, 'Bama ground Rebels
Big Ten: No dancing, just relief for OSU after rally
Big 12: Sooners smother Cyclones
Pac-10: Sun Devils rally to upset of Ducks
Nation: Bowling Green defends ranking in overtime
Big East: Running game, early TDs push Hokies past Knights
C-USA: Horned Frogs stifle Cardinals in rain
Not a one-man show
Bay's stars can only envy duo
Selig gets an image makeover
Bengals' problems mounting
NFL Game Day: Week 7
The party ends with a Parrots loss
Weekes nearly earns shutout for Carolina
No blame assigned in fatal ARCA crash
'Paper clip' track slow but tough
Sprewell reportedly attends Knicks practice
Pistons' Atkins hangs on to his NBA dream
Hoch keeps plugging away
Els, Garcia reach finalat the World Match Play
Former Gator finally plays well in Florida
Tampa amateur captures silver
Highs & Lows
Playoff contender or pretender?
Time off doesn't slow Tampa Prep swimmer
Mitchell musters fourth-place finish
Wins help swimmers ease midseason pains
Hiring Piniella would be Rays' best move