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Lightning winning streak ends at 3

Flames strike first, and Tampa Bay can't pull off a rally in 4-3 loss.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000


photo
[Times photo - Dirk Shadd]
Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Kevin Weekes watches the puck shot by Calgary Flames' Marc Savard fly by his outstretched hand for a goal Saturday night.
TAMPA -- If the Lightning could harness the energy it showed in the third period against the Flames and spread it over an entire game, it would be hard to beat.

For the first 40 minutes Saturday night, Tampa Bay was as flat as that half-finished soda that's been sitting in the back of your refrigerator since New Year's Eve.

The next 20, the Lightning bubbled like the can you opened with dinner. But Tampa Bay could not overcome two two-goal deficits and some spectacular goaltending by Calgary's Mike Vernon and fell 4-3 before an announced 13,088 at the Ice Palace.

"They never quit and kept coming," said Vernon, who made 29 saves. "We managed to hold them off. The good thing is there wasn't a minute left."

"It was a good third period," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "But you have to play three periods to win a hockey game."

The loss ended the Lightning's three-game winning streak, its longest since February 1997, and finished a successful homestand in which it went 3-1.

With the Capitals and Hurricanes idle, the Lightning remains atop the Southeast Conference standings, one point ahead of both.

On Tuesday, the team starts a three-game trip to Montreal, Toronto and Dallas.

"It would have been nice to get the four games at home before a long road trip," left wing Fredrik Modin said. "We'll regroup and go back at it Tuesday."

The Lightning regrouped after two periods in which Calgary outshot it 29-17 and took a 3-1 lead with two goals from rookie Oleg Saprykin.

Tampa Bay outshot the Flames 15-11 in the third and got clean shots from Modin and Lecavalier in the final 45 seconds, but Vernon stopped both.

Lecavalier scored his seventh of the season 7 minutes, 31 seconds into the period to cut Tampa Bay's deficit to 3-2. Marc Savard made it 4-2 at 9:05 when he scored on a five-on-three power play with Andrei Zyuzin and Pavel Kubina in the penalty box for holding and cross-checking, respectively.

And then the fun really started.

With Calgary's Brad Werenka in the penalty box for holding a Lightning stick, coach Steve Ludzik pulled goaltender Kevin Weekes.

"I looked at the clock and there was four minutes left," Ludzik said. "I said, "No guts, no glory. Let's go at it.' "

It paid off as Modin scored his 10th goal of the season at 16:01 on the six-on-four advantage to make the score 4-3.

Ludzik pulled Weekes again with 1:31 left to gain another penalty-aided six-on-four, which is when Vernon came up big on Lecavalier and Modin.

Tampa Bay's Mike Johnson scored his third goal in as many games, and Weekes continued his Ironman impression. The Lightning goaltender played in his ninth consecutive game and has played in 12 of the past 13 as Dan Cloutier gets into shape after suffering tendinitis in his left biceps.

Weekes cried foul regarding a first-period goal by Jarome Iginla that gave the Flames a 1-0 lead.

Weekes said it was a blatant high stick that redirected the shot from Tommy Albelin, and defenseman Craig Millar agreed.

"The puck was coming right at my face," Millar said. "I turned my face to get away and he tipped it in. If he's taller than I am, it had to be a high shot."

Ludzik criticized himself for failing to get the line matchups he wanted on a second period faceoff that led to Saprykin's first goal and a 2-0 Flames lead.

"I cost us," the coach said. "I tried to do something tactically and it wasn't a smart move. That wasn't their fault."

The horrible start, that's another story.

"We just ran out of time," Ludzik said. "We had them on the ropes, so it gives me a little bit of hope.

"We've got to come like we did in the third period for 60 minutes. There's no question of our guts. There's no question of how hard we want to play. We just have to get into that frame of mind."

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