By BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 22, 2001
TAMPA -- The Lightning wasn't about to turn down any breaks, but the players and coaches were willing to admit they got one in a 5-2 win over the Rangers Saturday night at the Ice Palace.
Tampa Bay led 3-0 with eight minutes left in the first period when Theo Fleury burst into the Lightning zone after Eric Lindros captured a loose puck and started a break. Lindros' pass ricocheted off the left dasher and rolled between the circles. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin hesitated and was beaten to the puck by Fleury. The right wing deked left and flipped the puck into the net, just before a group of players dislodged it.
Referee Mark Faucette immediately asked for a replay and the goal was overturned, sending Fleury and Rangers coach Ron Low into a tizzy.
The Lightning, coach John Tortorella said, might have been fortunate.
"Honestly, I think we might have gotten a big break," he said. "If it's 3-1 there, they're right back in it."
Khabibulin said he could have alleviated the situation by not hesitating. But he'll take the end result.
"It was lucky. We got a break," he said. "Whether it was a goal or not, it was waved off.
"Sometimes you get the bounces. I'm sure there will be a game when the other team gets the bounces."
HURTS: Left wing Fredrik Modin, who broke a toe on Saturday, and Tim Taylor (abdominal strain) are scheduled to meet with trainer Dave Boyer for evaluation today. Both are listed as day to day.
BETTER STILL: With five successful penalty kills on Saturday, the team has handled 11 consecutive and 18 of the past 19.
SAVES: Khabibulin had 33 saves on Saturday, giving the goaltending tandem of he and Kevin Weekes at least 30 in six of the first seven games. Khabibulin had 23 against Colorado on Tuesday, the team's sixth game.
BITS: Before having his first multipoint game on Saturday with two assists, defenseman Corey Sarich had 17 career points on a goal and 16 assists. One of his assists came on a shot that deflected off a defender. Modin controlled it and shot past goaltender Mike Richter.
"Even if it just hits the goalie right in the middle of the chest, you need to make him work," Sarich said. "You might get a rebound. Every little thing helps." ... Defenseman Ben Clymer had his first multigoal game. The two points tied his career high set twice, against Florida last season and Pittsburgh in 1999. ... Tampa Bay's 36 shots easily beat its season high of 28 set Oct. 7 in a 5-0 loss against Florida.