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Which team will show up?

The Lightning hopes win over Red Wings helps it erase schizo tendencies.

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 2000


PHILADELPHIA -- As he lay facedown on a training table Monday afternoon, Lightning coach Steve Ludzik found himself still astounded and somewhat amused by the statistic.

Twenty shots for Tampa Bay. None for Detroit after the first period Saturday at the Ice Palace.

"I've never seen it," Ludzik said. "But I think it happened to us before."

Tampa Bay's 3-0 win against the Red Wings again displayed its propensity for extremes.

The victory came one day after an 0-4-0-1 road trip ended. Before that one-point venture, Tampa Bay had its best nine-game stretch (6-2-1) since the 1998-99 season.

"It's a long season," forward Martin St. Louis said. "As a team, your confidence level is not high when you lose a few games, and you need something to get out of it. You need a win.

"Sometimes it will take two, three games to get it. Hopefully, you can get it right away, and hopefully, it doesn't have to be 10 games, either."

So what will happen when Tampa Bay plays Philadelphia tonight at the First Union Center is anybody's guess, especially because the Lightning is 2-9-1-2 on the road through a quarter of the season.

"I think we've got to remember what it takes to win," St. Louis said. "Everybody's got to know why we won against Detroit. We did the little things. We got opportunities early in the game, and we capitalized on it. That's huge.

"When you lose, you've got to remember the taste in your mouth so you don't have it again the next night."

All agree that Saturday's win, if coupled with a victory over the Flyers, could go a long way toward a more consistent future away from home.

"If we can beat Detroit at home, then we can beat Philly, too," defenseman Pavel Kubina said. "I think Detroit is one of the top three teams in the league all the time. They have experienced guys over there. Tonight is a good chance for us."

The Lightning has lost five straight road games by a combined 24-10 while winning its past three at home.

"I've not been disappointed with the way they've battled," Ludzik said. "I think now our thing is we know how to win at home, we've got to learn how to win on the road."

Philadelphia has lost four of its past five, ranks last in the league in penalty killing and is one for its past 32 on the power play.

That's good news for the Lightning, fourth in the Southeast Division.

"Philly always plays tough at home," Ludzik said. "They're big, big, big, probably the biggest team in the league, I think. We're going to have to go in there and take our ice -- don't ask for it, take it. If you go in asking questions, you're going to be in trouble."

Tampa Bay plays Colorado on Friday at the Ice Palace before starting a four-game trip Saturday to Colorado, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

It then has six straight home games to close the month.

"The first half of the season we're on the road a lot," St. Louis said. "If we can do well and set ourselves up for the home stretch after, we'll be fine. We've got to do anything to get points on the road."

WEEKES INJURED: Goalie Kevin Weekes injured his right knee in practice Tuesday and did not make the trip. Bill Wickett, vice president for public relations, said the injury did not appear serious but Weekes will be evaluated by doctors. Tampa Bay is expected to recall Dieter Kochan from the IHL's Detroit Vipers to back up Dan Cloutier tonight.

KUDROC UP, MARA OUT: The Lightning recalled defenseman Kristian Kudroc from Detroit and placed defenseman Paul Mara on injured reserve retroactive to Saturday. After sitting out six games with an abdominal strain, Mara had played in three games before aggravating the injury against the Red Wings. INJURIES: Right wing Mike Johnson (sore ribs) is not expected to play. Center Ryan Johnson (flu) did not make the trip. Right wing Stan Drulia (sore ribs) is day to day.

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