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Late flurry not enough to overcome mistakes

Tampa Bay loses 5-4 on national TV by playing poor defense and giving up three goals to N.Y.'s Petr Nedved.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2001


TAMPA -- The final horn sounded and Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina slammed his stick against the ice.

Tampa Bay had just thrown everything it had at Rangers goaltender Mike Richter in the final 30 seconds of Saturday night's game. Three shots, one by Vinny Lecavalier from right in front of the net, three saves and New York had a 5-4 victory in front of an announced 20,154 at the Ice Palace.

"I thought we deserved to win that game," Kubina said.

"I think we outplayed them. When you play like that and you still have no points, it's tough."

Tough because in the final analysis, the Lightning has no one to blame but itself for its sixth loss in a row and 20th in 23 games.

New York's Petr Nedved scored a hat trick, but two of his goals, scored in the first 5:19, were the result of inexcusable giveaways by Lightning forward Matthew Barnaby and defenseman Andrei Zyuzin.

His third goal, with 1:02 left, gave the Rangers a 5-3 lead and turned out to be the winner as Tampa Bay's Fredrik Modin scored his second of the game and 28th of the season with 29.4 seconds left to finish the scoring.

"I felt like the puck was following me tonight," said Nedved, who has 22 goals. "It's like the puck jumps at you at the right time."

He got it gift-wrapped in the second period, stealing a weak pass from Lightning defenseman Adrian Aucoin and assisting on Radek Dvorak's goal.

Tampa Bay got No. 1 goaltender Kevin Weekes back in net after he missed two games with a strained groin. But Weekes clearly couldn't move as freely as he would have liked and gave up two goals he really should have stopped.

"I tried to compensate with determination and grit and it wasn't enough tonight," said Weekes, who made 22 saves as Tampa Bay outshot New York 33-27. "It's frustrating. I wasn't able to do everything I wanted to do and contribute to that extent."

So let's go through the anatomy of a loss.

It started 50 seconds in when Barnaby tried a silly, backhand, between-the-legs chip to try to get the puck out of the defensive zone. Nedved stole it and sent a shot from the slot that Weekes should have saved.

"Just a bad f------ play," Barnaby said of his attempt.

At 5:19, Zyuzin tried to stick-handle around Nedved, who stripped Zyuzin in the neutral zone and scored on a breakaway.

"We have to become a team that understands where we are on the ice," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We have to continue working on that."

But unlike Thursday's game in which the Bruins scored four first-period goals, the Lightning settled itself after a timeout and battled back to tie it at 2.

Barnaby scored at 10:00 of the first period after great work by Lecavalier behind the net got Barnaby the puck in front. Modin scored at 5:42 of the second period on a wraparound that beat Richter through the legs.

The Rangers responded 13 seconds later on another goal Weekes should have stopped, a backhander from Jan Hlavac from the slot.

"He just caught me moving back," Weekes said.

Weekes could do nothing as Dvorak scored to make it 4-2 at 2:48 of the third period after Aucoin gave the puck to Nedved.

"Just a soft pass up the middle," Aucoin said. "A stupid mistake."

The Lightning closed to 4-3 with 5:53 remaining in the game when Nils Ekman deflected in Modin's shot. Then came Nedved's winner, Modin's second goal, and a wild ending that saw Richter deny Brad Richards, Aucoin's bomb from the high slot and Lecavalier's rebound try.

"You can't wait until the last five minutes of every game to try to pull it out," Lightning forward Ryan Johnson said. "To have a chance we have to do that the whole game."

N.Y. Rangers 2 1 2-5 Tampa Bay 1 1 2-4

First period -- 1, New York, Nedved 20, :50. 2, New York, Nedved 21, 5:19. 3, Tampa Bay, Barnaby 3 (Lecavalier, Ekman), 10:00. Penalties -- Malhotra, NY (slashing), 3:14; Tuzzolino, NY, major (fighting), 12:21; Barnaby, TB, major (fighting), 12:21; Ekman, TB (cross-checking), 12:21; Brown, NY, misconduct 12:21; Kudroc, TB, misconduct, 12:21; Fleury, NY (high-sticking), 18:03

Second period -- 4, Tampa Bay, Modin 27 (Johnson) 5:42 (pp). 5, New York, Hlavac 23 (Leetch), 5:55. Penalties -- Graves, NY (hooking), 3:28; Lefebvre, NY (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:23; Zyuzin, TB (hooking), 7:23; Graves, NY (holding), 15:40.

Third period -- 6, New York, Dvorak 16 (Hlavac, Nedved), 2:48. 7, Tampa Bay, Ekman 4 (Modin, Cullimore), 14:07 (pp). 8, New York, Nedved 22 (Hlavac, Dvorak), 18:59. 9, Tampa Bay, Modin 28 (St. Louis, Richards), 19:30. Penalties -- Messier, NY (hooking), 7:45; Kloucek, NY (slashing), 12:29.

Shots on goal -- New York 11-6-10-27. Tampa Bay 10-11-12-33. Power-play opportunities -- New York 0 of 1; Tampa Bay 1 of 6. Goalies -- New York, Richter 20-21-3 (33 shots-29 saves). Tampa Bay, Weekes 12-23-2 (27-22). Attendance -- 20,154 (19,758). Referees -Marc Faucette, Brad Watson. Linesmen -- Andy McElman, Dan Schachte.

* * *

TONIGHT: Lightning at Nashville Predators, 6.

TV/RADIO: Sunshine; WDAE-AM 620.

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