Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bolts Blow Yet Another Lead, Fall to Canes

By JC De La Torre

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost another game in which they had a two goal lead and returned to the cellar in the Southeast division. The Lightning jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first but didn't score again as Carolina mounted a come back and gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory.

Ryan Craig opened the scoring at the 5:05 mark of the first period, battling in front of the net, finding the loose puck, and tipping it past Carolina goalie Cam Ward for a 1-0 lead. A little over a minute later, the Lightning struck again as Vaclav Prospal put it past for a 2-0 lead. It would be an advantage that would last until the 15:57 mark of the first, when the Hurricanes scored twice in 1:11 on goals from Justin Williams on the power play and a seeing-eye shot that went off Chad LaRose's knee pad and into the net to tie it at 2.Carolina took the lead for good midway through the second period, on Joni Pitkanen's fourth goal of the season to give Carolina the 3-2 advantage that they would not relinquish.

Two franchises going in opposite directions. Carolina won their third straight game and seventh in their last ten. Tampa Bay lost their third straight and have lost seventeen of twenty-two one goal games. Since the firing of Barry Melrose, the Lightning have struggled with a 5-11-5 record.

Tampa Bay lost another defenseman during the game, as Andrej Meszaros was struck in the face by the puck midway through the second period. Meszaros didn't return and left the Lightning with a lack of experienced defensemen. Bolts defenseman Jamie Heward continues to recover from a concussion resulting from a hit by Washington's Alex Ovechkin. The news was good for Heward as he was released from the hospital on Friday but a return to the ice good be a little while off. With the call up of Ty Wishart and the injury to Meszaros, the Lightning defense included four players that were playing for the AHL just a week ago.

"It's tough, because defensemen are so important in this league," Lightning Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet told the Tampa Tribue, "I thought the kids coming up for us did a great job. It's a tough situation for us. The third period was probably our best period. We just couldn't get the goal to get us back in it."

No comments: