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Lightning hopes to turn over a new Leafs

Dave Andreychuk recalls '93 comeback when Toronto rallied from 2-0 down to win a series. He seeks the same result for Tampa Bay.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003


WASHINGTON -- It did not take long for someone to remind Dave Andreychuk about the last time his team was down two games to none in the NHL playoffs.

The Lightning captain had wondered aloud about that situation after Tampa Bay fell behind the Capitals by that margin in the East quarterfinals. Before that it was 1993, when the Maple Leafs were trounced 6-3 and 6-2 by the Red Wings in the first round.

"We lost those first two games badly," Andreychuk said Monday. "That's the funny thing about it, you win the series and you don't even remember what really happened."

What happened is the Maple Leafs advanced to the conference final after beating Detroit four games to three.

A notable achievement. In the 248 seven-game series in which a team lost the first two games, only 33 have come back to win.

That's 13.3 percent, and those are the odds facing the Lightning, which plays Washington in Game 3 tonight at the MCI Center.

"We played as a team," Andreychuk said of Toronto. "Besides Doug Gilmour, there were not a lot of superstars. We were a never-say-die team."

Same as the Lightning, Andreychuk said.

"I'm very confident," he said. "They're going out there with the attitude that they're going to continue to be playing. We've had that all year long. I don't see any doubts in the room. That, to me, is a good sign."

While there is something to be said for the intuition of a 21-year veteran, Tampa Bay has offered few tangible signs that this game will be any different from Games 1 and 2.

It is not as if goalie Nikolai Khabibulin stood on his head as the Capitals eked out a couple of lucky victories. Khabibulin has been outplayed by Washington's Olaf Kolzig and Tampa Bay has been outscored 9-3.

The Lightning failed on all eight of its power-play chances. It was undisciplined in Game 2, spent way too much time in the penalty box and gave up three power-play goals.

Offensive mainstays such as Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Ruslan Fedotenko and Martin St. Louis have not scored a goal. Lecavalier and defenseman Pavel Kubina do not have a point.

And how about this? Tampa Bay has not led. Of the 120 minutes played, the Capitals have led 99:12. The rest: tied.

"We've got to get that first goal," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "That should be our No. 1 priority so we can play with a lead and don't have to press."

"We need something good to happen for the club," coach John Tortorella said. "Whether it be a big save, a big goal, running someone over, whatever it takes to give us some momentum."

Tortorella shuffled the lines for Monday's practice, though with Caps coach Bruce Cassidy watching, it was difficult to tell if it was a smokescreen.

Tortorella seemed more intent on talking up playing on the road, where a more patient game than the one it plays at the St. Pete Times Forum helped the Lightning to a 6-2-4 mark in its past 12 games.

"There's no pressure of the home crowd, no pressure of the home building, no pressure of your parents being there, none of that," Tortorella said.

Said Cassidy: "You can't give them anything to be excited about. If they get excited, they're dangerous. The first period, we can't give them anything. We have to show them that if they're going to get something, they're going to have to earn it."

Tampa Bay can earn it by not taking silly penalties, getting better goaltending from Khabibulin and timely goals from its playmakers.

"If we don't win a game, we're in a serious tough spot," defenseman Cory Sarich said. "This is a huge game for us."

Look at it this way. Of the 33 teams that won after falling behind two games to none, only two -- the 1942 Maple Leafs and the 1975 Islanders -- did it after losing Game 3.

Not that anyone with the Lightning needed (or wanted) to be reminded of that.

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