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Another goose egg for struggling Lightning offense

RANGERS 1, LIGHTNING 0: Tampa Bay suffers shutouts on consecutive nights.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2001


RANGERS 1, LIGHTNING 0: Tampa Bay suffers shutouts on consecutive nights.

NEW YORK -- The Lightning's offense, moribund for most of the season, has completely disappeared.

Tampa Bay lost 1-0 to the Rangers on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. That follows a 2-0 loss to the Flyers on Saturday.

There was great improvement, especially defensively, against New York. The team had 20 shots, compared with 15 against Philadelphia. It also held New York to 27 shots. The Flyers had 42.

Brian Leetch got the winner 7:03 into the third period on a slap shot to the high slot that went through a screen and beat goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to the stick side.

Mike Richter made 20 saves for his second shutout and 24th of his career. Khabibulin made 26 saves for Tampa Bay.

It was the Lightning's third straight loss on the road.

The Lightning couldn't seem to get anything going in the first period and was outshot 8-2.

The first shot came 6:23 into the period by Brad Richards, whose shot went straight into Richter's chest.

The second came with 1.4 seconds left when Vinny Prospal's wrist shot from the side boards went, again, into Richter's chest.

Martin St. Louis hit the post off a pass from Matthew Barnaby at 14:36.

Tampa Bay did a good job of limiting New York's shots. But Khabibulin still had to be sharp.

He stopped Mark Messier's wrist shot from a faceoff circle with a good right leg save at 4:12.

About a minute later, he stopped Zdeno Ciger on the end of a two-on-one. Radek Dvorak slid the puck cross-ice to Ciger, but Khabibulin stayed square to the puck, slid let to right with the play and stopped the shot with his legs.

The Lightning picked up the offense some in the second period. It even outshot New York 11-9 and kept the Rangers out of the slot with minimal chances.

Tampa Bay got a good chance at 4:45 when St. Louis took a nice feed from Tim Taylor in front of the net. Richter blocked St. Louis' shot.

The Rangers applied some pressure during a power play. A Messier wrist shot clanged off the post to Khabibulin's left at 5:10.

Mike York then got the puck in front of the net. The center tried to stuff the puck past Khabibulin, who was up to the test. York whacked at the rebound, but Khabibulin stopped that as well.

Tampa Bay's Juha Ylonen had two great chances.

The first was at 10:47, when he got behind the defense and took a pass from Taylor but couldn't beat Richter.

The goalie made a great right leg save on Ylonen's slap shot at 15:48 and also stopped Ylonen on a rebound try.

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