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Bouncing back from the brink

Lightning tops Rangers 4-2 one night after a 5-goal loss.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2000


NEW YORK -- Steve Ludzik probably has given louder speeches, funnier speeches, speeches filled with more invective.

But the one the Lightning coach gave Sunday night before Tampa Bay's game against the Rangers has to rank as one of his most effective.

"It wasn't loud," defenseman Paul Mara said. "But it was intense and was from the heart."

"It was all about accountability," goaltender Kevin Weekes said. "Players being accountable and doing their jobs."

Talk about jobs well done.

The Lightning defeated the Rangers 4-2 at Madison Square Garden and healed the wounds of Saturday night's embarrassing 7-2 loss to the Devils.

Fredrik Modin got his first career hat trick. Weekes made 32 saves and Tampa Bay avoided its worst start in team history, though its 2-4-1 mark ties its worst seven-game record.

"It was huge coming off the game last night," said Modin, tied for second in the NHL with seven goals. And though Ludzik stressed the players deserved the credit for a dramatic turnaround, there was no doubt in the players' minds, the turnaround began with Ludzik.

"I gave a pretty emotional speech to my guys," he said. "I really did. I told them come out with your heart and play well."

"Everybody knows what happened (Saturday) was not good," Modin said. "He just made sure everybody knew it, and made sure we knew we had to get back to basics."

And that's exactly what the team did.

Ludzik went back to his original forward line configurations. The Lightning pressed the forecheck and created chances. The defense from the backliners and forwards was energetic and disciplined and held the Rangers to one power-play goal on eight chances.

Weekes, who beat the Rangers four times last season, was a sturdy last line of defense, and the Lightning scored three third-period goals, two within 28 seconds by Mike Johnson and Modin.

Defenseman Pavel Kubina also struck a blow for team unity at the end of the second period when he went after Theo Fleury, who slashed Weekes as he wheeled around the net.

"That was a team that got beat real bad last night and I thought they played pretty hard tonight and played a disciplined game," said Rangers goaltender Mike Richter, who made his first start since reconstructive knee surgery in April.

"We actually played pretty well ourselves. We just didn't take it to the next level."

"It was like two different teams," Modin said. "I don't know if we try to make it tougher on ourselves than it really is. We just have to get back to basics."

No goal displayed that better than the winner. Modin scored at 2:13 of the third period to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead, but the play was made by Wayne Primeau, who outworked Kim Johnsson for the puck in the corner, carried it off the boards and fed Modin.

"It was unbelievable," Modin said. "He had about 10 guys on his back."

"We knew we got outworked on Saturday," said Primeau, who had two assists. "We knew we had to come out with a little more effort."

The Rangers cut the deficit to 3-2 at 7:20 when Fleury scored with New York on a five-on-three. But Weekes was solid for the 1:30 that remained on the five-on-four.

Modin, who also had Tampa Bay's first goal, sealed the victory at 13:20 off Brad Richards' second assist of the game.

Mike Johnson opened third-period scoring at 1:45 in a five-on-three,breaking a 1-1 tie off a cross-crease pass from Vinny Lecavalier.

"It was good for everybody's confidence," Lecavalier said of the victory. "We have to keep going, though. It's only one game."

Hat's off

Tampa Bay is 9-3-1 with the benefit of a player getting at least three goals:

(Yr., Opp, Player, Score)

'92 -- CHI. -- Chris Kontos (4) -- W, 7-3

'92 -- NYI -- Doug Crossman -- W, 6-5

'92 -- DET -- Brian Bradley -- L, 9-7

'93 -- WIN -- Mik. Andersson -- W, 5-3

'96 -- SJ -- Brian Bellows -- W, 7-3

'96 -- SJ -- Jason Wiemer -- W, 7-3

'96 -- TOR -- Chris Gratton -- W, 7-4

'96 -- PIT -- Dino Ciccarelli -- T, 5-5

'97 -- NYR -- Rob Zamuner -- W, 6-3

'98 -- FLA -- Mikael Renberg -- W, 5-1

'98 -- CAR -- Wendel Clark -- L, 4-3

'99 -- MON -- Wendel Clark -- W, 6-1

'99 -- DET -- Wendel Clark -- L, 5-3

'00 -- NYR -- Fredrik Modin -- W, 4-2

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