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Lightning focuses on power-play failures
By JOANNE KORTH
Published April 23, 2006
After scoring once on nine man-advantages and allowing a short-handed goal, practice features a different formation.
OTTAWA - The chances were there.
Three in the first period, two in the second. Technically, there were four in the third.
But no matter what it tried, Tampa Bay couldn't find much of an advantage with a man advantage during a 4-1 loss to top-seeded Ottawa in Game 1. The Lightning was 1-for-9 on the power play, the goal coming with a five-on-three advantage. (The final comprised the game's last eight seconds.) Not too good.
As a result, the team spent much of a 45-minute practice Saturday working on its power play.
"We need to score goals," coach John Tortorella said. "We felt we had opportunities, or at least chances, to score on our power play. That was a big part of the game. These aren't going to be 1-0 scores."
During practice, center Brad Richards moved from his usual spot at the point to one deeper in the offensive zone, which had defensemen Paul Ranger and Dan Boyle on the blue line. When Richards plays the point, the Lightning's top power-play unit uses four forwards and one defenseman, with Richards a hybrid.
The switch not only could spark the power play, but help guard against scoring chances for Ottawa's aggressive penalty-killers. Looking to tie at 2, the Lightning allowed a short-handed goal midway through the third period Friday that, in essence, sealed the victory.
"In a 2-1 game, we need that power-play goal," forward Marty St. Louis said. "The bottom line is scoring the key goal at the right time."
A wobbly power play is nothing new to the Lightning. During the 82-game regular season, it converted 81 of 485 for 16.7 percent, 23rd in the 30-team league. That despite the presence of elite scorers St. Louis, Richards and Vinny Lecavalier.
"It's been a mystery all year," said Boyle, shaking his head. "The five guys who are out there are among the top guys in the league with skills. We just haven't put it together this year."
In the third period Friday, the Lightning played with a one-man advantage for 6 minutes, 48 seconds yet managed seven shots on goal in the entire period.
The key to being more productive, Richards said, is patience.
"We started off with some confidence, and as the game went on, we started getting off our routes and doing stuff out of character. And that's when things start to go wrong," Richards said. "After that, it was just kind of a scramble hoping we get set up and get a goal.
"If it doesn't go right the first few times, we have to have a little more patience to settle it down and get back to our normal routes and game plan."