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Tortorella: Skid 'has to fall on my shoulders'
The coach gives his impressions on the team's recent 1-7-1 slide which was broken by Tuesday's win.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published December 20, 2006
WASHINGTON - Lightning coach John Tortorella took responsibility for his team's recent skid before Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Capitals.
"The onus has to fall on the coach here, too," Tortorella said. "When you're 1-7-1 (in nine games before beating Washington), I think it's the coach's responsibility to try to help this team get out of this, and I have not done that. That has to fall on my shoulders. I think this team is playing hard. I think they're doing a lot of good things."
The Lightning has played well but has little reward to show for it. Tortorella said he could have done a better job with "getting the right combination at a certain time, to make a right line adjustment at the certain time."
The struggles have even had Tortorella searching for ways to break the Lightning out of its funk. He decided to end Monday's hourlong practice with a drill that used two tennis balls wrapped with white tape as pucks - a drill that had his players cheering and yelling as the balls bounced around the rink. It was also a change from the regimented way Tortorella typically likes his practices.
"Maybe I would say it was tough, because I like trying to get better at certain things, but you can't get stubborn," Tortorella said. "I looked at the team and saw how they were after the last game. No one's having fun. It's been a good 3 1/2 weeks here of simply not feeling good about ourselves. I didn't want them to go through the whole drama of a practice of teaching again. I wanted them to enjoy themselves.
"They had a blast. I was hoping that would relax them as we go in here."
FEDOTENKO RETURNS: Wing Ruslan Fedotenko, who was a healthy scratch in the game Saturday at home against Carolina, returned to the lineup Tuesday night.
Fedotenko, who came in with just two goals in his previous 18 games, logged 12:41 of ice time and assisted on forward Nikita Alexeev's second-period goal. It was just Fedotenko's fourth point in his past 18 games.
WORKING SHORT-HANDED: If the Sun Sports television broadcast of Tuesday's game appeared different, it was because the crew was short-handed after an unexpected walkout of Comcast employees in Washington, a move that was a surprise to the Sun crew.
The Sun Sports crew could staff only four of its six cameras and provided limited replays and graphics.
ODDS AND ENDS: Forward Andreas Karlsson and defenseman Luke Richardson were healthy scratches. ... The Lightning outshot the Capitals 35-24, including a 17-5 edge in the first period. ... Marty St. Louis' first-period goal increased his goal streak to four games. He is also riding a six-game point streak. ... Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin's first-period goal improved his point streak to eight games (seven goals, 10 assists).