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So much for the good vibes

STARS 2, LIGHTNING 1: A game after a solid win, Tampa Bay loses to a struggling team.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published December 21, 2003

photo
[Times photo: Dan McDuffie]
Stars left wing Brenden Morrow scores the winner on a power play 14:32 into the second period, beating goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin 21 seconds after Martin St. Louis tied it.

TAMPA - You know that big, emotional, overtime victory the Lightning pulled off Thursday against the Flyers?

It never happened.

It never happened because Tampa Bay lost 2-1 to the Stars Saturday night at the St. Pete Times Forum and wasted a chance to build some juice against a team that has been awful on the road.

"We talked about that," captain Dave Andreychuk said. "We talked about how the game in Philly doesn't mean anything if we don't win here."

"It's a kick in the teeth," coach John Tortorella said. "You have to try to gain momentum. You can't take one step forward and two steps backward."

The Lightning's most disappointing game of the season was a what-not-to-do study in futility that handed Dallas only its fourth road victory and first in six games, and extended Tampa Bay's winless streak at home to five (0-4-1). The Lightning was without top power-play scorer Cory Stillman, who has the flu, but that was no excuse for an 0-for-7 debacle on the power play and wasting 2 minutes, 50 seconds of five-on-three time; 1:47 late in the second period and 1:03 midway through the third.

The second five-on-three produced zero - ZERO - shots on goal as did a subsequent 57-second five-on-four.

Martin St. Louis scored a breathtaking short-handed goal to tie the score at 1 with 5:49 remaining in the second period. But Brenden Morrow got the power-play winner past Nikolai Khabibulin 21 seconds later after Philippe Boucher's shot deflected off the leg of defenseman Nolan Pratt, then the post.

The Lightning's power play scored twice against the Flyers by continually launching shots at the net. But against the Stars it appeared to look for the perfect shot, a rut that has produced just 10 goals in its past 106 opportunities.

More than once St. Louis at the point made poor passes that allowed Dallas to clear the zone.

"I take full responsibility," he said. "Special teams has to get a goal at home and it didn't. No excuses."

"When the power play is struggling, we should be trying to get pucks on the net and go for rebounds," Andreychuk said. "I don't know if we're looking for something else. We're trying to get a guy wide open and that's not always going to happen."

It appeared the Lightning scored with 1:03 left in the second during a 2:13 five-on-four. That came after the initial five-on-three, which included Mike Modano's four-minute high-sticking penalty.

But referee Kevin Pollock waved off Vinny Lecavalier's shot that would have tied the score at 2 because he ruled Andreychuk interfered with goalie Marty Turco. Andreychuk was in the crease and Turco lost his stick, but Andreychuk said Turco initiated the contact.

"The goalie tried to take my feet out from under me," Andreychuk said. "Quite a few times, actually."

Turco, who made 26 saves, has allowed one goal or fewer in five consecutive games and two or fewer in 12 of 14. Though with the Stars scoring just 20 goals in that stretch, he is 7-6-1.

"It was good to shut those guys down," said Modano, who scored in the first to snap an 11-game drought. "They've got a lot of talent on that power play."

"We played a very determined team," Andreychuk said. "But we had a chance to win and we didn't."

[Last modified December 21, 2003, 01:16:22]

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