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After another loss, the Lightning remains mired in a tough stretch.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 25, 2007
TAMPA - This is a week the Lightning might want to forget.
During the week of Thanksgiving, Tampa Bay could have said, "Thanks for nothing."
After its 3-2 loss to the Devils on Saturday night - its fourth straight setback in the week - the Lightning was left with that snakebitten feeling.
Skidding down the standings, a record below .500 and precious points slipping through its grasp, the Lightning (10-11-2) couldn't help but feel that none of the breaks went its way during the week, despite four games it could have won.
"I'm just concerned about the hockey club," coach John Tortorella said. "They play that hard, and they don't get the reward. We've just got to make sure we keep it together here, just stay the course. We just need to continue to go about our business and not get down about anything."
Lightning wing Michel Ouellet's tying goal with 4:49 left was negated by video review in Toronto, taking away momentum from the surging Lightning.
Ouellet's wrist shot slid between the legs of goaltender Martin Brodeur and crept toward the goal line as Ouellet drove the net and Devils defenseman Mike Mottau tumbled into the goal, knocking it off its hinges.
Video review showed enough evidence - NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy said the puck hit Ouellet's skate and never crossed the line - to overturn the call. Tortorella said the right call was made, but it was tough to digest for players.
"I personally think that goal was in, and if it wasn't in, their D-man came in and knocked the net off," Lightning defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "It was going in if it wasn't in.
"Some guy in a booth watching the game cost us a point or two, so it's just frustrating that way."
Instead, the Lightning can add it to the list. Add it to the phantom hooking call Monday that cost it the game in overtime in Atlanta. Add that Tampa Bay is 0-for-3 with video reviews this week. On Wednesday, Rangers defenseman Brendan Shanahan covered a puck in the crease, but review was inconclusive. On Friday, review of Eric Staal's goal was inconclusive as well.
Add it to the no-call on a blatant cross check on Marty St. Louis by Dainius Zubrus in front of the net late in the third period Saturday that could have been a difference-maker.
"It's about momentum," said forward Jason Ward, whose power-play goal 36 seconds into the third period made it a one-goal game. "You're pushing to get that third one, and once you do, it's a big momentum swing."
The Lightning found itself in the exact opposite spot as it did 24 hours earlier, entering the third period down by two goals at home. Tampa Bay allowed a pair of goals in a span of 42 seconds, the second of which occurred when Dan Clarkson took the puck near the blue line.
But the Lightning dominated for most of the second half, especially in the third period, when it outshot New Jersey 14-1.
"We did a good job of coming back, but we fell just short," Lightning center Chris Gratton said. "We've got a couple days here to rest up, heal up before we go back at it again. Our schedule doesn't get any easier."
[Last modified November 25, 2007, 00:43:52]