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Lightning rallies but falls in OT

Three third-period goals force extra period, where Carolina wins 6-5.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Before Tuesday night's game against the Hurricanes, the Lightning players made a pact.

According to forward Brian Holzinger, the deal went something like this: "Play hard to the end, no matter what the outcome."

Guess what? It worked.

The Lightning didn't win. (Got your hopes up, didn't we?)

But Fredrik Modin, Brad Richards and Holzinger scored in the final 3 minutes, 48 seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime before a crowd of 7,016, the smallest for hockey at the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena.

And though Tampa Bay lost 6-5 when Sandis Ozolinsh scored 2:35 into overtime, it gained a much-needed point in the standings -- with six, it is still just three points out of first place in the Southeast Division -- and maybe broke a downward spiral of four losses in its previous five games.

The Lightning also breathed a sigh of relief when Kevin Weekes survived a first-period crash with Carolina's Jeff O'Neill, who ran over the goaltender in the crease.

Weekes lay almost motionless, and backup Dieter Kochan began stretching. But Weekes, despite what he described as a sore neck and head, shook it off.

"Everybody believed we could win," said Holzinger, who tied the score at 5 with 44.5 seconds remaining. "You've got to give us credit. We need to build on it."

Here are some bricks.

The newly formed line of center Vinny Lecavalier, Holzinger and Modin had four goals and three assists, with Lecavalier scoring twice. And the team threw its weight around more than it has the past few games.

There are still problems. The Lightning gave up two power-play goals on six chances to a team that entered the game with five goals on 56.

It also gave up a short-handed goal to Martin Gelinas (its fourth of the season) and let Carolina score two goals over 24 seconds of the third period. Ron Francis got his second of the game on the power play at 3:21. Bates Battaglia followed.

When Glen Wesley scored to make it 5-2 at 10:47, it appeared the Lightning was done.

Not an outrageous assumption. The team faced a similar situation last week against the Red Wings, who scored to make it 3-1 in the second period after the Lightning missed a breakaway chance. Tampa Bay did not respond.

Granted, the Hurricanes, who were on an 0-4-1 streak, are not the Red Wings. But similar emotions could have stirred. The difference, Modin said, was the Lightning didn't feel it deserved to be down by three to Carolina.

"We felt like we were on top of them," he said. "We had forechecked pretty good."

The team also was more aggressive on its breakouts.

"You looked up and there was a forward to pass to," Modin said. "We had a couple of them. We hadn't had much of that before."

So the Lightning, as a famous television chef likes to say, kicked it up a notch.

Modin scored his eighth on the power play with 3:48 left. Richards scored with 1:33 left, and Holzinger, with assists from Modin and Lecavalier, scored to make it 5-5.

"I told my guys they showed huge heart that they didn't stop working," Lightning coach Steve Ludzik said. "That's as good a comeback as you're going to see in the National Hockey League."

"We won the game, but that's a real loss," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "You can't rely on scoring five goals and "we'll see what happens on the back end.' "

At the end, Ozolinsh scored on what he called "a lucky bounce" off Weekes.

"We got a point, but every time you lose a game, it's not a good feeling," Modin said.

"We're learning," Holzinger said, "but we're not quite there yet."

Tonight's game

Lightning at New York Rangers, 7.

TV: Sunshine.

RADIO: WDAE-AM 620.

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