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For Lightning, penalty calls not minor
Tampa Bay is whistled seven times, swinging the game Carolina's way.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published March 2, 2008
Hurricanes' Erik Cole, top right, celebrates a goal by teammate Eric Staal with Tuomo Ruutu. Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier looks at the puck in the net during first period.
RALEIGH, N.C. - Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle still cannot believe he was called for a roughing penalty on Carolina's Erik Cole in the second period of Saturday night's game.
"Cole's about 240 (actually 205 pounds) and I put my hand on his face and he does a summersault, 360 (degrees) on the ice," Boyle said. "He was shocked he didn't get a (diving) call. I saw his face afterward."
Tampa Bay's locker room was full of such stories after a 5-1 loss at the RBC Center.
The Lightning was called for seven minor penalties in the game by referees Mike Hasenfratz and Dan Marouelli; five in a second period in which Carolina scored twice, once on the power play, to turn a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 advantage.
"It took us right out of the game," said associate coach Mike Sullivan, standing in for an agitated coach John Tortorella. "We had a real solid first period. We carried the play in the first period. The penalty situation in the second period took us right out of the game."
Add that the Hurricanes only had to kill one penalty that began with 8:22 left in the third and the score 5-1, and Carolina's reputation for embellishment, and you understand the consternation for Tampa Bay (26-32-7), which lost for the sixth time in seven games.
"It is frustrating," said defenseman Paul Ranger, called for tripping Keith Aucoin, who fell hard to the ice after being tapped on the leg with a stick. "I don't know how a guy can trip when you hit him on the back of the leg."
The Lightning took a 1-0 first-period lead on Jeff Halpern's second goal in three games since being acquired from the Stars, and Boyle was clear the penalties "didn't cost us the game."
Being outshot 33-23, including 18-9 in the second was troublesome, as was Vinny Lecavalier's ninth straight game without a goal, his longest streak since a 10-game drought in 2002, and Marty St. Louis' sixth straight game without a point.
That Boyle was minus-4, Ranger minus-3 and Tampa Bay allowed goals to Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu in a 1:58 span of the third period didn't help.
But as Sullivan said, "Any time you take penalties, you take players out of the game that don't kill, and the players that do kill expend a whole lot of energy trying to defend. We use our top players when we kill and I think it takes its toll."
Consider this second-period stretch:
Defenseman Shane O'Brien was called for hooking 7:34 into the second period. Goaltender Mike Smith was called for tripping Eric Staal with 9:22 left, a call he argued. Ranger was penalized with 6:14 left, Boyle with 4:28 left.
The Lightning entered the game with 301 minor penalties, tied for the league's second fewest.
"We believed we have a disciplined hockey team as far as stick infractions and understanding what the rules are and how to play," Sullivan said.
Boyle said he pleaded with the officials to watch the scoreboard replay of his penalty.
"The call is made. You can't do anything about that," he said. "But at least you want them to learn. They wanted no part of it."
Hurricanes 1 2 2 -- 5
Lightning 1 0 0 -- 1
First Period-1, Tampa Bay, Ouellet 11 (Darche, Halpern), 7:04. 2, Carolina, Staal 31 (Ruutu, Cole), 10:43. Penalty-Lundin, TB (tripping), 18:59.