Tampa Bay rallies twice to tie but falls in overtime as Calgary takes commanding lead
TAMPA - Lightning center Tim Taylor sat in front of his locker, more frustrated than exhausted, more upset than disappointed.
Tampa Bay had just lost Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final 3-2 in overtime to the Flames. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Lightning center said it was as much his team's doing as Calgary's.
"We didn't respond well," Taylor said. "It feels like your heart is ripped out right now."
The final piece was torn away by Flames left wing Oleg Saprykin, whose rebound shot got past goalie Nikolai Khabibulin with 5:20 left in the extra period and silenced a crowd of 22,426, the largest ever at the St. Pete Times Forum.
With a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series, the Flames have two chances to win their first Cup since 1989. The first: Saturday in Calgary.
"It's just a great feeling, a great feeling for every guy in the room," Saprykin said. "Guys battled hard, and every guy deserved it. It doesn't matter who scored the goal. We just tried to stay for each other."
Jarome Iginla scored his playoff-high 13th goal and had an assist. And goalie Miikka Kiprusoff improved to 4-0 in Game 5s this postseason with 26 saves.
On the other hand ...
"Our mind-set needs to be different," Lightning left wing Chris Dingman said. "They came after us and played hard, but we didn't do the things we talked about, the things we needed to do."
Such as churning the legs at all times, winning the battles along the boards and limiting turnovers and mistakes. And what the heck happened in the second period, when the Lightning played one of its worst periods of the playoffs and was outshot 14-3?
Make no mistake, the Flames deserved to win this game. They were quicker to the puck and hungrier to retrieve it.
"We know we have to play a lot better," Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said. "They took the play to us. We turned the puck over more than we did the game before and didn't get the puck deep."
Vinny Lecavalier's turnover at the Flames blue line and a badly timed and executed line change gave Calgary an odd-man situation in its offensive zone and led to Saprykin's goal off a rebound of Iginla's shot.
It was Martin St. Louis' errant pass in the offensive zone that led to Iginla's goal that gave Calgary a 2-1 lead with 4:50 left in the second. And it was Fredrik Modin's high stick in the offensive zone that gave the Flames a power play on which Martin Gelinas scored on a great tip-in to give Calgary a 1-0 lead 2:13 into the game.
Still, the Lightning teased its fans. St. Louis' goal with 33.5 seconds left in the first period tied the score at 1. And Modin's power-play goal 37 seconds into the third period tied it at 2.
But as coach John Tortorella said, "You're not going to win Game 5 in the finals playing 40 minutes like we played tonight. It simply comes back and bites you in the (butt)."
Not everything was negative. Khabibulin made 33 saves, some brilliant, including an astonishing right-leg stop of Iginla in the first period to preserve the one-goal deficit.
Sure, he would like to have Iginla's goal back.
Maybe he was guarding the short side too much. But the shot to the long side was professional, low and hard.
And the line of center Martin Cibak and wings Dingman and Ben Clymer was Tampa Bay's best. No offense, but that can't happen.
"We have to play better in front of Nik," Taylor said. "It's about time we gave him a great game. Game 2 is the only game I think we came to play with a lot of heart and desperation."
That will not cut it in Game 6.
"We have to get angry," Taylor said. "We all have these dreams and aspirations of winning this thing.
"We have to get angry and ticked off because they are taking it away from us."
That's not disappointment. That's anger.