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© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

Khabibulin shoulders some blame

Nikolai Khabibulin did not mince words.

When asked about what went wrong for the Lightning during Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Capitals, the goalie said, "Obviously, I've got to stop some pucks. I've had better games."

Khabibulin made 25 saves but has allowed eight goals in two games with an .846 save percentage. If you include his final game of the regular season, in which he stopped 13 of 17 shots against the Flyers, his save percentage is .826.

Asked if he got everything he needed out of Khabibulin, coach John Tortorella said a quick "No."

Khabibulin was a Lightning savior in the last quarter of the season. He was 12-0-4 in 16 games before the one against Philadelphia with a 1.23 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage.

But he has never won a playoff series in four with the Winnipeg Jets and Coyotes. He said the pressure to win has nothing to do with the past.

"I think you feel more pressure when you play at home, and we didn't accomplish what we need to accomplish," he said.

There also was the matter of a string of penalties in the first period that kept the Lightning on its heels.

"If we want to win the next game, we can't be playing short-handed," he said. "We have to be better and more disciplined."

That goes for the goalie as well.

"I should have been better," he said. "It doesn't matter who you face, you have to go out and try to stop it."

Tortorella shrugs off losing streak

Tortorella said he does not care that Tampa Bay has lost 11 consecutive games at the MCI Center.

"I don't give a damn what the record is," he said. "We're going to go in there and get a good workout and get together and stay together, and we're going to find a way. No guarantees. But we're going to be ready to play."

Don't forget your parting gifts

Lightning forward Brad Richards set off a last-minute scuffle when he slashed Capitals wing Mike Grier after Grier's empty-net goal with 41.6 left. Several players joined the fray, and Richards and teammate Vinny Lecavalier were assessed 10-minute misconducts. With 13 seconds left, Tampa Bay's Fredrik Modin and Washington's Brian Sutherby also received misconducts.

"Well, it's the playoffs," Lecavalier said. "There are a lot of cheap shots going around. We have to play with determination and grit."

Message received.

"It was a little frustration, but everyone wants to play hard to the end," Grier said. "I'm sure they want to let us know they're going to play hard the rest of the series and it's not going to be easy for us. We have to be ready to play Tuesday."

A lot of shots, not enough goals

Though only three found the net, the Lightning's 43 shots on goal tied the team's season high set in a 5-3 victory against the Rangers on Dec. 29.

They also were the second-most allowed by Washington this season, behind the 44 yielded to Philadelphia on Nov. 9, and the most allowed in a regulation-length playoff game, eclipsing the 42 allowed to the Rangers on April 21, 1986.

Doesn't matter how, just score

After scoring three goals in the first two games, the Lightning will take goals any way it can get them. "A lot of goals are scored in the playoffs on dirty goals and tip-ins," right wing Martin St. Louis said. "That's the way we want to play."

Be careful even on the bench

Cory Sarich received seven stitches above his left eye. He was hit by the puck while on the bench in the second period.

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