Kaspars Astashenko scores the lone Lightning goal, but Jaromir Jagr responds to give Pittsburgh a 1-1 tie.
By KEVIN KELLY
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000
TAMPA -- As soon as he waddled into the locker room, stained jersey and soaked pads still on, Kevin Weekes let out a low-pitched groan.
[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier has his shot stopped by Pittsburgh goalie Garth Snow as Jeff Norton latches on during Thursdays game at the Ice Palace.
Weekes had reason to be tired.
In the first game of a six-game home-stand, he stopped 38 shots in a 1-1 tie against Pittsburgh before 14,444 Thursday at the Ice Palace.
Weekes has faced 30 or more shots in the past five games he has played.
"I think Kevin likes the work," goaltending consultant Jeff Reese said.
Tampa Bay, 7-4-2 at home this season, led 1-0 going into the third period thanks to a first-period goal by Kaspars Astashenko and the play of Weekes in goal.
But a single botched play led to Pittsburgh's score by right wing Jaromir Jagr 20 seconds into the final period. That meant the difference between the Lightning's 11th win of the season and its fourth tie.
"We looked very, very lethargic, a lot of us," Lightning coach Steve Ludzik said. "We're making mental mistakes and that can't happen."
On a shot sent into the Lightning zone, Weekes attempted to stop the puck behind the net and leave it for defenseman Maxim Galanov, who misplayed the puck.
"I just left it," Weekes said. "It was a miscommunication on my part. I was assuming that he knew what my intentions where and he didn't. That's my responsibility."
Penguins defenseman Jiri Slegr gathered the puck and passed to center Toby Peterson along the boards. He sent a centering pass to Jagr, who scored his 19th goal of the season and 18th career against the Lightning.
"Toby made a good play," Jagr said. "I was by myself. It would've been hard to miss that goal."
Both teams had numerous chances to score late, but both goalies stood strong as they had all game.
Pittsburgh's Garth Snow, playing for the first time since sitting out two games because of a suspension, stopped 31 shots.
Jagr, in particular, came alive late, lurking along the boards and in the slot. He finished with four shots on goal, three in the third period.
"He looked at the start of the game like he wasn't very interested and we hit him a few times, stopped hitting and then he got more interested as the game went on," Ludzik said. "Let's be honest, every time he touched the puck on the power play or (in overtime), our hearts were in our throats. We know that."
The Lightning was shotless for nearly 12 minutes in the middle of the first period, but went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead on Astashenko's first career goal with 3:22 remaining.
Astashenko, plus-2 in five games this season, hesitated before shooting but beat Snow 16:48 into the period.
"It's so exciting, my first goal," said Astashenko, who has played 14 career games. "I've been working hard, trying to prove myself to the team because I want to stay here."
The Penguins dominated the first period, but had nothing to show for it after sending 13 shots toward Weekes, who in the last five games has stopped 71 of the past 72 shots faced in the first period.
Pittsburgh had three consecutive scoring chances late in the period but came up empty.
Tampa Bay continued to struggle on the power play by going 0-for-4. Tampa Bay is two for its past 35 with the man advantage.
It failed to get a shot off during its first two chances.
"Our power play is anemic," Ludzik said. "It cost us huge tonight again."
Meanwhile, Weekes was using every piece of equipment on his body.
"I don't know what too many shots is," Weekes said. "I guess I just take it as a fabric of our team. You've got to take the situation as it comes."
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