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The late slow: Canucks' rally throttles Lightning

Tampa Bay comes back but Vancouver goes one better with three late goals to win 5-4.

[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Paul Mara reacts with less enthusiasm than Vancouver's Trent Klatt after the Canucks tied the score at 4.

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 9, 2000


TAMPA -- The Lightning's second game of the season ended much like it began Sunday: In a flurry of scoring by Vancouver and confusion by Tampa Bay.

The Canucks scored twice in the first 98 seconds, gave up four unanswered goals, then scored three times in the final 2 minutes, 55 seconds to win 5-4 before an announced 12,322 at the Ice Palace.

"If we would've won this game," Lightning coach Steve Ludzik said, "we would've stolen it."

The real thievery came courtesy of Vancouver's defense, which limited Tampa Bay to 16 shots while its offense hit Lightning goaltender Dan Cloutier with 41.

At one point from the second to the third period, Tampa Bay went 22:55 without a shot while being penalized six times.

"Sometimes it's good the guys realize that you can't steal games like that and just rely on Cloutier to be diving all over and making the great saves," Ludzik said.

"Obviously that hurts, but it's a good lesson. If you don't work for 60 (minutes), I don't care if it's 30 seconds or 40 seconds, and everybody's not on the same page, (it's then) that you're going to be in trouble."

The Lightning was in control after Brad Richards scored his first NHL goal 14:27 into the second period to make the score 4-2.

But a funny thing happened on the way to potential victory and the team's best start since the 1995-96 season, the last time Tampa Bay went to the playoffs: The defense relaxed.

"I don't know why we changed the way we were playing," Cloutier said. "We should've kept playing the same way. I think we sat back a little bit. Maybe we're missing a little bit of experience or something. "We can't let a team battle back when there's five minutes left in a game, and we did tonight. I think Vancouver deserves the two points. They kept battling all night and they got what they deserved and we didn't."

Three quick penalties midway through the third period left the Lightning short-handed for 2:59.

With defenseman Pavel Kubina in the penalty box for roughing, fellow defensemen Andrei Zyuzin (slashing) and Petr Svoboda (high sticking) were whistled for penalties at 11:23.

Vancouver had a four-on-three advantage for 59 seconds, five-on-three for 1:01 and five-on-four for 59 seconds.

It failed to score, waiting instead for full strength.

After defenseman Mattias Ohlund scored 17:05 into the third period, left wing Daniel Sedin tied it at 4 less than two minutes later.

"As soon as we got the third one, everybody thought (a win) was possible and everybody just dug in a little deeper," center Denis Pederson said.

With Vancouver short-handed after an interference penalty with 45 seconds left, Pederson scored the winner with 25 seconds left.

"I had some room," Pederson said. "I took a couple of steps and just wanted to put it on net. It got through."

Added Zyuzin: "We panicked. We didn't know what to do or where to go. We have to be smarter. Unbelievable. It's just unbelievable."

Tampa Bay's comeback from two goals down began when center Steve Martins scored his first goal of the season at 14:19. Wayne Primeau centered the puck to Martins, who was trailing him into the zone, and beat Felix Potvin.

It was first of three assists by Primeau.

The Lightning tied the score on a goal by Fredrik Modin with five seconds left in the first.

Defenseman Paul Mara scored 6:06 into the second to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2. Potvin was replaced by Bob Essensa, who played the final 25 minutes and stopped eight shots.

"There's no words for it," Svoboda said of the loss. "We had it but at the same time we had 13 shots and they had 41. We cannot do that. We cannot be happy with that. We cannot even think about it.

"We've just got to get it out our minds. It was just a bad dream."

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