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Tampa Bay continues to misson late scoring opportunities

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 24, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Sometimes it comes down to basics.

Through the Lightning's first 18 games in which it went 11-4-2-1, the team averaged 3.5 goals. In its next 17 games, Tampa Bay went 4-8-3-2 and averaged 2.17.

"Teams tighten up," center Brad Richards said. "Every game gets more important. You just have to battle through it and find a way to get goals."

The Lightning has had opportunities. It outshot opponents 50-10 in the third period of its past four games against the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Predators and Capitals, but got one goal.

"I'm happy with the way the team is playing, especially offensively," coach John Tortorella said. "But we're a little snakebit around the net."

Dramatic goaltending by Ed Belfour, Tomas Vokoun and Olaf Kolzig contributed to a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, a 2-2 tie with the Predators and a 3-0 loss to the Capitals. But sooner or later, Tampa Bay must take advantage of its chances.

It also must break some significant scoring droughts.

Though he has 14 assists in his past 20 games, left wing Vinny Prospal had one goal. Center Tim Taylor has not scored in 25 games, right wing Ben Clymer in 15, right wing Sheldon Keefe in 13, left wing Fredrik Modin in 10 and right wing Ruslan Fedotenko in nine.

"We have to get some dirty ones, a couple of greasy ones," Fedotenko said. "Go for the rebound and jam it in. Create plays and work and get back to the basics and good stuff will happen."

NO HELP FOR ANDREYCHUK: Left wing Dave Andreychuk, playing his first game in 20 days, said he did not ask for extra padding in his skate to protect his fractured big right toe.

"I won't request a target, no thank you," he said. "I'm not a believer in putting that on there. If you're ready to go, you're ready to go."

Andreychuk said he still has pain, but said it is part of the game. More worrisome for the captain is his timing.

"Hopefully," the 39-year-old said, laughing, "I can use my experience to get around that."

Andreychuk played 14 minutes, 25 seconds in 19 shifts against the Capitals and was 7-of-14 on faceoffs.

OLVESTAD OUT AGAIN: Right wing Jimmie Olvestad was scratched for the eighth consecutive game. "You have to be professional in this situation," he said. "I'll get my chance, and when I do I have to take care of it."

ODDS AND ENDS: Center Alexander Svitov was a healthy scratch. ... Center Brian Holzinger had five assists in the final game of his conditioning assignment with AHL Springfield. He had two goals, nine assists in six games. He is expected to rejoin the Lightning Friday.

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