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Scoreless after two, the Lightning allows the winner in the third.
By Eduardo A. Encina, Times Staff Writer
Published February 22, 2008
UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Though the third period has been a curse this season, there was something about it Thursday against the Islanders that made Vinny Lecavalier believe the Lightning could break through.
Tampa Bay's goaltending - its Achilles' heel for most of the past two seasons - had done its job for the second straight night. But a bad defensive read hung Karri Ramo out to dry and gave New York a one-goal lead after 45 scoreless minutes.
In the game's final minutes, the Lightning rushed goaltender Rick DiPietro, but it didn't come together. A centering pass from behind the next slid innocently between two Tampa Bay players in the slot. Marty St. Louis, camped in front of the net, swung his stick toward the net on a rebound. And Lecavalier's rapid-fire wrister from the right circle hit the far post, creating a loud pinging sound everyone in Nassau Coliseum could hear.
But there was no reward, just another frustrating loss, 1-0, the first time the Lightning hasn't earned a point on the road in 11 games (7-1-3).
"It seemed like it was there," said Lecavalier, who has just one goal in the past nine games. "We were playing better and better, and our skating was better. We just couldn't get past their goalie. We were driving the net, doing all the little things right."
The loss, combined with Carolina's win over Atlanta, slid Tampa Bay (25-28-7) 10 points out of first place in the underachieving Southeast division, its playoff hopes just a flicker.
"It's a crucial two points every night," Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said. "A lot of this is frustrating no matter which way you go."
It wasn't like the Lightning's third-period collapse in Buffalo on Wednesday, when it blew a late two-goal lead in a flash. Tampa Bay played to a scoreless tie for 45 minutes, but the game-deciding goal happened in a flash.
A bad defensive read put blue-liners Filip Kuba and Shane O'Brien out of position and gave Miroslav Satan an all-too-good scoring opportunity between the circles. Satan shot past a sliding Kuba at 5:37.
"We held them to eight or nine scoring chances," coach John Tortorella said. "We make a huge mistake on a read by our defensemen, and it ends up in our net. We don't score. You knew how that game was going to be played as we went through. It was who makes the mistake, and we made a pretty big one off a pretty easy rush coverage."
Meanwhile, DiPietro (32 saves, 14 in the third) won the goaltender's duel, logging his third shutout of the season as the Islanders won their season-high sixth straight. Ramo (27 saves) was magnificent in defeat, following up on Johan Holmqvist's 42-save losing effort Wednesday.
"For the most part we fought; not every minute, but for the most part we did," forward Brad Richards said. "I can't say we played the best hockey through two periods, but we were in the position to win the game in the third.
"We played a pretty good third, but you can't give up that type of chance. It's a basic play, and that's kind of what we've done in Buffalo and throughout. For some reason, we're not learning from it."
[Last modified February 22, 2008, 00:49:34]