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Slow start to 2001; slow start in Ottawa

The Lightning, 0-2 in the new year, falls 8-3 after allowing a three-goal first.

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001


OTTAWA, Ontario -- The gray metal doors to both rooms stayed shut, a security guard positioned outside each.

Five minutes. Ten minutes.

It was 15 minutes after Ottawa beat the Lightning 8-3 before an announced 17,026 on Thursday at the Corel Centre before coach Steve Ludzik emerged from his dressing room.

"This is the first time in a year and a half that I've been disappointed with my guys, very thoroughly upset with them," he said. "The gloves are coming off."

The locker room door opened in near silence five minutes after Ludzik's.

"We don't want to be coming to the rink in February and March and two weeks in April with no reason to come to the rink," rookie center Brad Richards said. "There's no reason we can't battle and get our heads up and work hard."

Ottawa center Radek Bonk scored his first career hat trick and had three assists, and linemate Marian Hossa added a franchise record five assists and defenseman Wayne Redden scored two goals as the Senators beat the Lightning for the sixth straight time at home.

Goaltender Patrick Lalime stopped 22 shots. He wasn't tested nearly as much as Tampa Bay goaltenders Kevin Weekes and Dan Cloutier, who faced a combined 44 shots.

For the Lightning, it wasn't the encore performance hoped for after a comeback the night before, when it outshot Carolina 38-20 and cut the Hurricanes' three-goal lead to one in the third period before running out of time and losing 3-2.

"Our defense looked like they were nervous tonight," Ludzik said. "Our best players did not come to play. ... The only way you can beat Ottawa is you've got hit them, you've got to hammer them and you've got to stick up for yourselves. We didn't do that tonight. It's unacceptable."

After center Brian Holzinger scored on a backhand shot 1:57 into the game, the Senators took the lead by scoring three straight.

Bonk scored on the power play 4:01 into the period. Redden and right wing Andre Roy added goals in the first.

Redden found himself alone in front of the Lightning net when a pass to Hossa was deflected to him. He scored 91 seconds after Bonk.

Roy made it 3-1 when he got ahead of two Tampa Bay players in the slot and scored his second goal of the season 13:56 into the period.

Weekes, who stopped 17 of 21 shots, was replaced by Dan Cloutier in the second period. Cloutier, who was replaced by Weekes after one period against Carolina, finished with 19 saves on 23 shots.

"They scored the first goal, so we had to come back quickly," Hossa said.

Tampa Bay right wing Alexander Kharitonov scored the Lightning's second goal 7:42 into the second period.

But as it did in the first period, Ottawa responded.

Forty-seven seconds after Kharitonov's goal, Bonk scored his second after he intercepted an errant pass.

"That was the turning point in the game," Richards said. "The shift after ... you just can't do that.

"There are times when we don't respond a whole lot. We have to be able to respond and drive it right back down their throat after a goal like that and stay in the game."

It got worse for the Lightning, winless in four straight and 3-14-2-2 on the road.

Redden, left wing Martin Havlat and left wing Magnus Arvedson scored in the third period, and Bonk got credit for his third goal after an Ottawa pass bounced off the Lightning's Martin St. Louis.

"I got a couple of lucky bounces and wound up with six points," Bonk said.

Ryan Johnson scored on the power play with 5:26 remaining to make it 7-3. The Lightning is 4 for its past 55 (7.3 percent) on the power play.

"We were a different team tonight," defenseman Jassen Cullimore said. "I thought we outplayed Carolina. Though we got the loss, we almost doubled them on shots. Then tonight, it didn't seem like the same team.

"It's not the big plays that we need right now. It's the little things, doing them consistently so that everyone can feed off that and knows what everyone's doing."

Blowouts

Last season the Lightning lost 12 games by four or more goals. Although this season's team is improved from a points standpoint, it is on pace for 15 similar losses:

(Date, Opponent, Score)

10/21at Devils 7-2

10/25 at Red Wings 5-1

10/27Senators 6-0

11/1at Rangers 6-1

11/20at Stars 6-2

12/23Devils 5-1

1/4 at Senators 8-3

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