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Lightning can't convert opportunity into points

The Red Wings, however, make the most of their scoring chances to secure a 5-1 victory.

[AP photo]
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina trips over Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood in the first period.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000


DETROIT -- The Lightning and Red Wings were involved in a little give-and-take Wednesday night.

Both teams were given chances to change the course of the game. It was the Red Wings who took advantage and earned a 5-1 victory in front of 19,995 at Joe Louis Arena.

The loss ended Tampa Bay's four-game road trip at 1-3 and improved the record of Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood to 9-0 against the Lightning. It also saw defenseman Petr Svoboda aggravate a hip flexor injury sustained Saturday against the Devils. "Below average," Lightning coach Steve Ludzik said of the trip. "One win and three losses are not going to get you into the playoffs. We're better than that. It's disappointing."

The game featured many of Tampa Bay's recent foibles. The team was outshot 41-26, including 19-11 in the second period. And Lightning players again expressed disappointment they did not press the forecheck, using their speed to its utmost advantage.

But back to the original premise.

The Red Wings cashed in and Tampa Bay didn't, simple as that.

Detroit went 2-for-4 on the power play, getting goals from Brendan Shanahan and Martin Lapointe in a 48-second span in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.

Tampa Bay was 0-for-4 on the power play and missed some chances that left players rolling their eyes trying to explain. The most glaring was a semibreakaway in the second period that would have tied the score at 2, but Wayne Primeau could not convert.

But Ludzik was more miffed at a sequence that gave Detroit a five-on-three advantage and led to goals by Shanahan and Lapointe.

"We took two stupid penalties," the coach said. "Really selfish penalties that really cost us the game. You don't go five-on-three with these guys."

The culprits were defensemen Pavel Kubina and Bryan Muir. Kubina took a slashing penalty 13 minutes, 18 seconds into the first period. Twenty-eight seconds later, Muir was called for cross-checking.

"I just gave the guy an extra tap in front of the net," Muir said. "I can't be doing that."

Muir said it wasn't a hard check. "But it was a little too much, obviously," he said. "I have to learn from that."

The Red Wings employed shock therapy. Five seconds after Muir's penalty, Shanahan blasted a shot past goaltender Kevin Weekes. On the ensuing five-on-four, Martin Lapointe plowed past Lightning defenseman Svoboda and beat Weekes on a slap shot Lapointe took as he fell at the faceoff circle.

"You just can't take a shift off against them," Weekes said. "They capitalize on their opportunities. That's what makes them the Red Wings. It's one of the main traits that makes them who they are."

The Red Wings capitalized again at a crucial point in the second period. Tampa Bay had cut its deficit to 2-1 at 11:39 on Alexander Kharitonov's second goal of the season.

About 90 seconds later, Primeau skated down the slot with Detroit defenseman Aaron Ward in hot pursuit. As Primeau was about to shoot, Ward dove with his stick outstretched. Primeau jumped over it, but his shot hit Osgood in the chest.

"I knew the defenseman was on me," Primeau said, "and I was trying to think about what I could do. And I'm trying to keep my balance. I was trying to go back to my forehand and I guess it hit (Osgood) in the chest or the shoulder."

The ensuing Detroit goal was like a punch in the gut and showed the Red Wings' transition game in its textbook glory.

After Osgood stopped Primeau, Sergei Fedorov and Pat Verbeek wheeled the other way and worked a give-and-go that ended with Fedorov scoring from the slot at 13:09 for a 3-1 lead.

"They are so skilled," Ludzik said of the Red Wings. "You can't even get a matchup against them."

And they take what they're given.

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