tampabay.com

Lightning's good vibe goes goodbye

Coach John Tortorella says, "It's probably the most embarrassed and disappointed I have been since I've been here with them."

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published January 16, 2008


TAMPA - The way coach John Tortorella figured it, Lightning fans fell down on the job during Tuesday night's game at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The boos directed at his team during a dreadful 3-0 loss to the Avalanche? Not enough.

"I would have thrown (stuff) at the team, not boo the team," Tortorella said. "At us; I'm part of them. I would have thrown (stuff)."

Instead, Lightning players threw around terms such as "embarrassing" and "brain dead" and "terrible" to describe a game that wiped away any of the good accomplished in winning two of its previous three games.

Instead, Tampa Bay (17-24-5) continued to build what is now a 3-10-2 streak. It also lost its fifth straight at home, where it is 1-7-1 in its past nine games.

"We didn't get anything accomplished," left wing Vinny Prospal said. "It was like we were brain dead."

Said Tortorella: "It's probably the most embarrassed and disappointed I have been since I've been here with them."

It was staggering how many things went wrong and how badly the team played through the first two periods in which it had just 10 shots. Dead batteries generate more energy.

Then there is this:

The Avalanche, playing the final game of a five-game trip, scored its two second-period goals - by Jeff Finger and Paul Stastny - on the power play.

That is the same power play that entered on a 1-for-29 streak; the same power play that had not scored more than once in a game since Dec.9; the same power play that had scored just seven times with a man advantage on the road.

But Finger's goal, his third of the season and first in 19 games, deflected in off the glove of goaltender Karri Ramo. And Stastny, Colorado's points leader, was inexplicably left alone in front of the net to pick off a rebound.

"We had the puck and got them tired out, a couple of them moving around," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Lightning came alive in the third period and took a season-high 22 shots. It outshot Colorado 32-25 in the game but couldn't solve goalie Jose Theodore, who earned his 24th career shutout but first in 110 games going back to Feb.24, 2004, against the Hurricanes.

"We beat ourselves in the first two periods," center Brad Richards said. "We didn't realize we were in a game; terrible."

Terrible was watching the line of Prospal, Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, which has not had a goal in three games, produce what Tortorella called "squat." Worse was letting the positive vibe of the past few days turn dissonant.

"I watched our team practice (Monday)," Tortorella said. "The tempo was good, spirits were good, I'm just having a tough time to explain our first two periods. I can't."

"We were flat. We weren't skating. We were throwing the puck everywhere," Lecavalier said. "Nobody really had any jump and we made some mistakes."

They will be addressed today at an 8 a.m. practice Lecavalier assured would not be pretty.

"You see an 8 a.m. practice, you know it's going to be a tough one," he said.

At least no one will throw (stuff).

Avalanche  0 2 1 -- 3

Lightning  0 0 0 -- 0

First Period-None. Penalties-McLeod, Col, major (fighting), 1:27; Wanvig, TB, major (fighting), 1:27; Laperriere, Col, major (fighting), 1:51; O'Brien, TB, major (fighting), 1:51.

Second Period-1, Colorado, Finger 3 (Liles, Arnason), 5:30 (pp). 2, Colorado, Stastny 17 (Brunette, Clark), 16:27 (pp). Penalties-Ranger, TB (tripping), 5:14; Darche, TB (hooking), 6:36; Lukowich, TB (hooking), 14:31.

Third Period-3, Colorado, Hejduk 17 (Brunette, Stastny), 18:26 (en). Penalties-Laperriere, Col (hooking), 11:50; Arnason, Col (slashing), 15:51. Shots on Goal-Colorado 9-12-4-25. Tampa Bay 7-3-22-32. Power-play opportunities-Colorado 2 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 2. Goalies-Colorado, Theodore 11-10-1 (32 shots-32 saves). Tampa Bay, Ramo 2-6-1 (24-22). A-17,222 (19,758). T-2:13. Referees-Frederick L'Ecuyer, Don Van Massenhoven. Linesmen-Michel Cormier, Mark Shewchyk.