tampabay.com

Trip ends just as it began

The Lightning remains winless away from home. Heck, it hasn't even held a lead away from home.

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 2, 2007


UNIONDALE, N.Y. - The scoreboard showed another one-sided loss on the road Thursday night - the Lightning's sixth straight road setback to open the season.

And despite a game in which Tampa Bay gave its best effort on its three-game, four-day trip through the New York area, there was little consolation in the dressing room after a 4-0 loss to the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

In the three games, the Lightning was outscored 13-2. Tampa Bay has gone nearly 82 minutes without a goal, and Thursday marked the Lightning's first shutout loss since 5-0 to the Rangers on Feb. 9 of last season.

It has not even owned a lead on the road this season.

"I've never been so frustrated," defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "I look around this room, and it's not from a lack of talent or a lack of effort. The coaches are doing everything they can to show us video.

"The hockey gods just aren't giving us any breaks, but I don't want to make excuses because there's no reason."

Not only did the loss extend Tampa Bay's club record for road losses to start a season, it sent the Lightning (5-6-1) below .500 for the first time this season. The Lightning headed home late Thursday night two days into the second month of the season still looking for its first road win.

It was the Lightning's first regular-season loss to the Islanders since March 16, 2004, a span of nine games.

Despite the zero on the scoreboard, coach John Tortorella counted 16 scoring opportunities, six more than in the losses to the Rangers and Devils combined.

"They're frustrated because they haven't won and everybody likes winning," Tortorella said. "They're not seeing the results.

"Eventually, those results will come if we stay within ourselves and from this step we took (Thursday), build on that."

As has been the case during this entire road trip, Tampa Bay couldn't find the back of the net. A massive line shuffling - among which Tortorella reunited Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis alongside Jan Hlavac - did its job in rejuvenating the attack. Tampa Bay was back to its usual attacking brand of hockey but couldn't capitalize on numerous early opportunities.

"We still want the result," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "That's how we play. We play to win. We're not going to be happy with saying we played pretty well. We've got to get that first goal, and we have to bear down on chances."

When Hlavac had a breakaway but was stoned with a glove save by Rick DiPietro (28 saves) in the game's first nine minutes, it served as a bad omen for the Lightning.

Just more than four minutes later, Bill Guerin scored the first goal of the game, which came after DiPietro swung at the puck in midair with his stick to pick up an assist.

The Islanders then scored three more goals, all on rebounds, including a backbreaker by former Lightning forward Ruslan Fedotenko with 47 seconds left in the second.

"We worked so hard to get so many chances, and then boom, it's in our net," O'Brien said "I don't think it was a 4-0 loss. If we can get a lead on the road, I think we can be a pretty successful team.

"But we're just squeezing our sticks."