Full team produces empty night

Published October 1, 2005

TAMPA - If the Lightning used Friday night's preseason game to look for signs, it might have found one.

This sign reads: Danger Ahead.

As it gears for the regular season, the Lightning found it has a few more gears to go judging by a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in front of an announced crowd of 17,454 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Sure, no reason to panic based on one game, a preseason game at that. But with the exception of a resting Brad Richards , the Lightning used its regular lineup yet looked out of sorts and out of this game for most of the 60 minutes.

"Real cute hockey team," an annoyed coach John Tortorella said about his Lightning. "I just thought we were too cute and sloppy as hell."

Tortorella thought the Lightning spent too much time trying to hit home run passes without the red line and not enough time playing defense.

The Lightning was outshot 28-20. It trailed in shots 23-13 midway through the third period.

"We (stunk)," Tortorella said. "For whatever reason, we (stunk). ... We know it's the preseason and I know that comes into play. I don't want to disrespect them, and treat them like babies. ... I know it's not a regular-season mind-set. But it's pretty late into camp and we have one more (preseason) game to play, and I think we need to expect more out of ourselves in that one game."

Tortorella will drive that point home before Sunday's preseason game at Florida.

"It was a good time to happen because it gives us a great teaching opportunity," Tortorella said. "We might be late for the game Sunday with all the tape we're going go over."

The lone bright spot - well, besides Pavel Kubina 's goal and assist that made the score slightly respectable - was goalie Sean Burke .

Despite allowing five goals, Burke turned in a stellar 23-save performance. Without several wow-did-you-see-that saves, Friday's score could have been more gloomy.

"They played better than us, obviously," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "Defensively, we struggled the whole game.

"Still, it's preseason and I believe we'll play better from here on out."

ONE MORE CUT: The Lightning trimmed its roster from 22 to 21 by sending left wing Evgeny Artyukhin to minor-league Springfield after the game.

Artyukhin, however, had an impressive camp and scored a team-leading three goals in five games.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: The team continues searching for a No.6 defenseman and Friday was Andy Rogers ' turn to make an impression. Rogers is vying for the spot with Timo Helbling , though the team continues to sift through the waiver wire for a defenseman with NHL experience.

Tortorella, however, is hesitant to evaluate players, particularly during the preseason, immediately after games. He usually withholds judgment until after reviewing game tape.

"I think to be fair, you can't see everything on the bench," Tortorella said. "And if anyone says that can see everything on the bench, they're lying. I need to look at tape so at least we can give them the fairest opportunity we can."

MISCELLANY: The Lightning lost the shootout after the game, 1-0. Rod Brind'Amour scored for Carolina, while the Lightning's Kubina, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier were stopped by goalie Cam Ward . ... Helbling and Richards did not dress. Richards has been recovering from surgery in January to repair a tear in his abdominal wall, but that had nothing to do with him being held out. ... The Lightning will have an off day today.