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Lightning falls again, only harder

The Devils pound Tampa Bay 7-2; Svoboda is injured.

[AP photo]
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dan Cloutier stares up at the scoreboard while New Jersey Devils players celebrate teammate Sergei Brylin's second period goal.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- At least this time the Lightning took a pounding from the defending Stanley Cup champions.

One game removed from a disheartening loss to the expansion Wild, Tampa Bay was nuked by the Devils 7-2 Saturday night in front of an announced 15,097 at Continental Airlines Arena.

Seven Devils scored -- that is if you count the goal Lightning forward Todd Warriner punched past Dan Cloutier -- Patrik Elias had three assists and goaltender Chris Terreri, making his first start of the season, could have napped in net for all the action he saw.

Wait, there's more. The Devils outshot Tampa Bay 44-15 and scored three power-play goals on six chances.

As if that wasn't enough, Lightning defenseman Petr Svoboda was lost for the game 6 minutes, 36 seconds into the second period with a hip flexor.

Fredrik Modin scored for Tampa Bay early in the third period. Pavel Kubina scored on the power play with three minutes remaining.

"It was just an unbelievable assault on our team," Lightning coach Steve Ludzik said.

"It was," Lightning forward Ryan Johnson said, "as embarrassing as it gets."

Cloutier was pulled in favor of Kevin Weekes after the second period and seven goals. Cloutier said he could have played better. Brian Rafalski's power-play goal from the blue line that made the score 5-0 in the second period should have been stopped.

What Cloutier didn't mention was how he also was done in by some horrendous defense from the back-liners and forwards.

Of the goals, Johnson said, "You can't blame him for one."

"I've got to make those saves, but it was one of those nights," said Cloutier, who faced 32 shots, 20 in the second period in which the Devils scored five times.

"In this league, once teams get a lead on you, they tend to sit back. But this team is not going to sit back. They're the defending Stanley Cup champions."

And they were mad after a 5-2 loss to the Capitals on Thursday night, and they had a plan.

Before the game, Devils coach Larry Robinson said he thought New Jersey could take advantage of a team that is vulnerable in its own end. He was right as the Devils had the run of Tampa Bay's defensive zone.

Cases in point: Defenseman Cory Sarich left Randy McKay alone in front of the net to attack Bobby Holik in the corner. The alert Holik passed to McKay, who scored the power-play goal to give the Devils a 2-0 lead.

Sergei Nemchinov received a smart pass from Alexander Mogilny at the Lightning blue line between defensemen Paul Mara and Bryan Muir, who could not catch Nemchinov as he bore in alone on Cloutier and scored to make it 3-0.

When Warriner tried to knock the puck off the stick of Jim McKenzie, who was walking in on Cloutier, he instead knocked the puck past the goaltender to give the Devils a 6-0 lead.

And now we present the Keystone Kops.

As the Devils brought the puck into the Lightning zone, Sarich positioned himself in front of Cloutier. As the goaltender tried to move the defenseman out of the way, Sergei Brylin slid a shot from the point just inside the post with 38.3 seconds remaining for a 7-0 advantage.

"We just got severely rattled right off the get-go," Ludzik said. "My message to my guys is that they weren't following the game plan we had worked on. It's just tough to take. Very tough. We lost a lot of battles on the walls. ... I think every guy has to start playing to his maximum and right now it's not there."

"We came out ready to play and never gave them a chance," Terreri said. "I don't know how many of those you'll see."

The Lightning already has seen one too many.

* * *

TONIGHT: Lightning at Rangers, 7; Madison Square Garden, New York.

TV/RADIO: Lightning Hockey Network; WDAE-AM 620.

Where to watch the Lightning

Tonight's Lightning game is one of 20 that will be shown this season on the Lightning Hockey Network. The games are produced by Sunshine Network and offered to area cable systems to be placed on a channel of their choice. Time Warner cable will show the game on Ch. 18 on its upgrade and digital systems in Citrus and Hernando counties and in the Black Diamond area of Citrus County. On the regular system in Citrus, it will be Ch. 20, in Hillsborough Ch. 44 and in Pinellas Ch. 7. On Verizon Media Ventures in Clearwater and Pinellas Park, it will be Ch. 525, and on Moffat Communications in Zephyrhills Ch. 2.

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