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Lightning hounded at start

Boston scores three goals in the first period, enough to doom Tampa Bay in a 6-2 loss.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


BOSTON -- Lightning coach John Tortorella desperately searched for the positives in Saturday night's 6-2 loss to the Bruins.

To a limited extent, he was successful.

He said the team stuck up well for itself when things got chippy in the third period, and he liked Cory Sarich's effort in a spirited fight with Bill Guerin.

He also liked the way Tampa Bay settled itself after falling behind 4-1 early in the second period and answered on Matthew Barnaby's first goal for the Lightning four minutes later.

Barnaby also got the game off to a rousing start when he fought Andrei Nazarov four seconds after the opening faceoff.

As for the rest of it? It would take a Washington insider to put more of a spin on a disappointing result in front of 17,565 at the FleetCenter.

It was Tampa Bay's third consecutive loss and 13th in 15 games.

"It's something no one likes dealing with," center Brad Richards said. "But we're the only guys who can get us out of it."

Tortorella forgot to mention that Tampa Bay held the Bruins to 23 shots. The flip side is the Lightning mustered only 20, and just one in the third.

The Lightning's special teams were miserable. Tampa Bay went 1-for-7 on the power play, and it allowed consecutive power play goals, and three total, to a team that came into the game on a 2-for-45 streak with the man advantage.

Then there is the suddenly troubling state of Tampa Bay's goaltending.

Kevin Weekes left with 2:29 remaining in the second with a strained right groin. Dieter Kochan, called up from the IHL's Detroit Vipers after the trade of Dan Cloutier, allowed goals on his first two shots, turning a 4-2 deficit into a four-goal rout.

Not even the loss of Boston's Byron Dafoe helped Tampa Bay. The goalkeeper, making his 25th start, strained his right hamstring trying to save Fredrik Modin's goal 1:24 into the first and was replaced by Pete Skudra, who relieved him in five of those games.

Skudra was sharp when he had to be, making 18 saves, and defenseman Jonathan Girard and forward Jason Allison had two goals and an assist.

"We've got to regroup," Tortorella said. "That's all that you can do."

The Lightning should get some help for Tuesday night's game against the Coyotes at the Ice Palace.

Jassen Cullimore, the Lightning's best defenseman, who sat out with a bruised right shin sustained in Tuesday's loss to the Blues, should be back.

Newly acquired defenseman Adrian Aucoin, expected to be a big boost to the power play, should be in uniform with his immigration papers finally in order.

And Tortorella even held out hope captain Vinny Lecavalier (fractured left foot) would be ready to return.

So what happened after Modin's 25th goal put the Lightning ahead 1-0?

"We just fell asleep," center Brian Holzinger said.

Joe Thornton scored his 17th after Sarich failed to keep the puck in the Boston zone. And Girard, who had one goal entering the game, scored power play goals on consecutive slashing penalties to Holzinger and Sergey Gusev to make it 3-1 at the end of the first.

"That was a big change in the momentum," Modin said.

Still, the Lightning held out hope. It was down just 4-2 heading into the third thanks to Barnaby's power play goal at 6:26 of the second.

But Kochan allowed Guerin to score 31 seconds into the third on an unscreened, knuckling slap shot from near the point. And Allison scored on a power play breakaway at 3:01.

"There's your game," Richards said of the third period goals. "That's why we lose."

Come on Brad. There were a lot more reasons than that.

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