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Cloutier remains downcast


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2000

NEW YORK -- One day later, Dan Cloutier's view of Saturday night's 7-2 meltdown loss to the Devils at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., wasn't any brighter.

Despite little defensive help, the Lightning goaltender, who was pulled for Kevin Weekes after two periods and seven goals on 32 shots, took his share of the blame.

"That's the worst game I've ever played as a Lightning player," Cloutier said before Sunday night's game against the Rangers. "In order for us to win, I have to find a way to make those saves."

Cloutier said he usually leaves bad games in the dust. Not that one.

"When you get beat 7-2, you always think about it, even the next day," he said. "I'm still really upset. I just need a couple of practices to get back into things."

With Weekes playing against the Rangers, the earliest Cloutier can play is Wednesday in Detroit against the Red Wings.

Cloutier said it was good the team played Sunday night.

"That's the good thing about hockey," he said. "You have a game the next night, you pull a win and forget about the loss. We really need those two points.

"I think our team is going to play better. Even though it was a bad loss, you learn from those. It's going to make us a better team."

At the same time, he said, "It was a weird game. I don't want to be part of that anymore."

SVOBODA BACK: Defenseman Petr Svoboda, who suffered a hip flexor injury against the Devils, played against the Rangers.

RATTLE THE CAGE: One of Saturday night's notable moments was the crunching second-period check right wing Sheldon Keefe threw on Sasha Goc against the end boards.

Lightning wing Martin St. Louis hit Goc at the same time, but it was Keefe who left his feet and really smashed Goc into the boards and onto the ice.

"When a team is kind of on us, you want to play with a little more emotion and work harder and finish your checks and that's part of what I bring to the table," said Keefe, who got two minutes for charging. "It's too bad we really didn't respond."

ODDS AND ENDS: At the Rangers' request, the Lightning wore its home white uniforms. ... Defenseman Cory Sarich and left wing Kyle Freadrich were healthy scratches. ... Center Vinny Lecavalier's assist on Mike Johnson's goal Sunday night gave him three goals, six assists and points in a career-high seven consecutive games.

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