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Halfway to nowhere

Lightning, trailing 2-0, heads to an arena in which it hasn't won since 1998.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003


TAMPA -- The last time Dave Andreychuk was down two games to none in a playoff series was ... well, the Lightning captain said he'd have to think about that.

In the meantime Andreychuk said Tampa Bay, down by just that in the East quarterfinals after Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Capitals, is not in a desperate situation.

"Desperation is two minutes to go and you're in the fourth game," he said.

Call it precarious, then, dangerous, perilous, vulnerable, whatever you want. It all comes down to the same thing. Tampa Bay is in trouble.

Not only did the Lightning lose twice at the St. Pete Times Forum, where it was 22-9-7-3 during the regular season, Games 3 and 4 are Tuesday and Wednesday at Washington's MCI Center, where it has lost 11 in a row since Nov. 4, 1998.

The Lightning also might have to deal with some controversy, as left wing Andre Roy did not return to the bench after the first period.

The enforcer played one minute in the first period and was benched by coach John Tortorella for taking an ill-advised roughing penalty on which Washington capitalized to take a 2-0 lead 7:22 in.

"We're in a situation we've been in all year," Andreychuk said. "We're the underdogs, and we put ourselves in that position. Everybody wrote us off, and now they're going to write us off again. We'll respond to it."

The Lightning need only look to the Capitals to see how it is done.

Jaromir Jagr, held to one shot in Game 1, matched his career playoff high of four points with two goals and two assists. Peter Bondra had two goals, an assist and a game-high nine shots, and Michael Nylander had a goal and an assist.

The Lightning's 43 shots were significantly more than Thursday's 28, and Andreychuk had a goal and an assist. But Olaf Kolzig made 40 saves and again controlled rebounds like he had Stickum on his pads.

Jagr refused to gloat.

"It's not over until you lose four games," he said. "We have two to go to win the series. But I've been on their side before and down two to nothing. It's definitely not over."

Still, a few things need to change for the Lightning. Nikolai Khabibulin, who has allowed eight goals in two games, has to sharpen his game, and the team has to sharpen its wits.

Tampa Bay was whistled for five penalties in the first period, which led to three power-play goals; two in the first period to help the Capitals to a 3-1 lead and one early in the second.

The most damaging sequence began with Fredrik Modin's hooking penalty with 3:14 left. Then came Pavel Kubina's cross-checking call with 2:20 left and Jagr's second goal with 1:36 left on a five-on-three. Cory Sarich was called for roughing with eight seconds left, and Nylander made it 4-1 1:39 into the second period during a five-on-four.

"We were so ready to go," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We came out with a lot of emotion, but we took a few penalties because of that. It's a good thing to play with a lot of emotion. But there's such a thing as playing with too much."

"I thought our intensity level was really good," Tortorella said. "But we have to channel it a little better."

Here are a couple of other things on the to-do list.

Stan Neckar has to at least get a stick on Jagr as the superstar skated on the right wing and around the defenseman before scoring his first goal.

Tim Taylor and Brad Lukowich can't allow Washington's Robert Lang to fish a puck from between them at the side of the Lightning net so he can pass to a wide-open Jagr for his second goal.

And Khabibulin has to stop Bondra's shot 3:09 into third period after Modin's goal with 1:12 left in the second cut the Lightning deficit to 4-2.

"I know they have a stranglehold on the series," Tortorella said. "But we're going to get our work in (today) and corral what we need to corral.

It wouldn't hurt to play with ... what was that, Vinny?

"Desperation," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "It's a desperate situation."

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