tampabay.com

Seven-goal flurry sinks Lightning

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published November 21, 2006


Sabres 7, Lightning 2

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The words coming out of the Lightning locker room perfectly reflected what had just happened on the ice.

Right wing Marty St. Louis called it "embarrassing."

Goaltender Marc Denis said it was "humbling."

Tampa Bay was steamrolled 7-2 by Buffalo on Monday night at HSBC Arena. All seven goals came in the second period.

"The feeling is awful," Denis said. "I've been through one-sided games in my career, but I don't know if I've fished a puck seven times out of my net in such a short span."

Sixteen minutes, 5 seconds to be exact, which must have seemed like an eternity for a Tampa Bay team that could not cope with Buffalo's speed and saw every mistake end up in its net.

The Sabres, the NHL's top team with 35 points and 94 goals, were halted only when the period was stopped with 2:08 remaining because of a broken pane of glass.

The teams played out the period before starting the third, but it at least gave Tampa Bay, which fell to 10-10-1, a chance to regroup.

"We will take something out of this," coach John Tortorella said.

A good place to start is to consider what Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said after the game.

"The second period, we dominated them," he said. "We were more hungry than them to go for the win."

It is one of the season's mysteries.

Just when it seems the Lightning is about to get itself on track, it goes into a tailspin.

A three-game winning streak in October is followed by a three-game losing streak.

A 4-0-1 stretch this month is followed by a streak of three losses in four games.

"Let's be honest with ourselves," Denis said. "The last four games haven't been our best. I've learned through the years, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you bounce back."

The only time in Lightning history in which it allowed more goals in a period was the second against the Capitals in February 1999, when it gave up eight in a 10-1 loss.

The seven goals were the most Tampa Bay allowed in a game since an 8-5 loss to the Sabres in March.

And the five-goal margin was the most since an 8-2 loss to the Panthers in February.

Fingers could be pointed in many directions.

Denis, who lost his fifth straight decision and has allowed 26 goals in his past six games, allowed seven goals on 13 shots in the second period, though he got little defensive help.

Center Brad Richards and wings Ruslan Fedotenko and Dmitry Afanasenkov had zero shots. Defenseman Dan Boyle had one.

The team lost 62 percent of faceoffs. Boyle, forwards Eric Perrin and Andreas Karlsson, and defenseman Filip Kuba each finished minus-2.

And defenseman Cory Sarich's terrible defensive zone giveaway led to a goal.

"The little plays beat us," said St. Louis, whose two goals on the night gave him a team-high 13. "We lose a draw, they score. We don't get the puck out, they score. That's a good offensive team. You have breakdowns and that's the kind of second period you get."

"Give them credit," Denis said. "But at the same time, it's about these four walls with this hockey club."

Up Next: Lightning at Panthers, 7:30 Wednesday, BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, No TV