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Overtime strikes thrice for Lightning

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2003

WASHINGTON It took 11 seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning to win a playoff series, so they didn't care if it took a few extra overtimes.

Martin St. Louis scored his fifth goal of the series on a power play 4:03 into the third overtime Sunday to give the Lightning a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.

The Lightning, after dropping the first two games at home, won four straight to win the best-of-seven series and advance in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

It's been a long time coming, no question,'' Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. There's been some lean years out there. We're hoping we continue to go. You never know how far you're going in the playoffs, but you need to come back and do it again, and that's how you solidify your organization.

We don't want this to be a one-year thing or a one-series thing.''

Tampa Bay's only previous postseason appearance came in 1996, when it lost 4-2 to Philadelphia. The third-seeded Lightning will play No. 2 New Jersey in the second round.

St. Louis scored on a power play after the Capitals were whistled for too many men. St. Louis took Vincent Lecavalier's pass behind the net, circled to the right of the crease and put the shot above Olaf Kolzig's glove.

We were fortunate,'' Tortorella said. A power play at that time of the game, when both teams are so very tired, it's definitely an advantage.''

The culprit was defenseman Jason Doig, who hopped off the bench too soon and found the puck at his stick. It was a tough blow for a team that lost Game 3 when leading the series 2-0 on a 5-on-3 overtime power play.

He just was a little too excited to get out there,'' Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said. The way this whole series went, I was sitting in the locker room shaking my head, thinking we found a way to beat ourselves in terms of allowing those calls to be made, I guess.

When you look at the way we lost games, sometimes it's just not to be.''

The Capitals added another collapse to their playoff legacy, blowing a two-game series lead for the fourth time since 1992. They lost four straight something that didn't happen during the regular season and are 2-10 in their last 12 home playoff games.

Washington failed to meet owner Ted Leonsis' goal of winning a playoff series, despite the huge investment he's made in Jaromir Jagr and other high-paid players.

It also hurt that the money-losing Capitals failed to sell out any of their three home games in the series. Sunday's Easter attendance was 15,269 and that appeared very generous.

I have to really reconsider the kind of commitment and investment I'm making with this team,'' Leonsis said. I'm not a quitter. ... It was hard to see 14,000 fans. I don't like the treatment that we're getting from the building. The party's over. To play back-to-back games on Passover and Easter Sunday does not help.''

Leonsis was also dissatisfied with the officiating, including a dicey high-sticking call on Kolzig in Game 5.

They made a cheap call on too many men on the ice that I don't understand,'' Leonsis said. The third game really hurt us. The penalty on Olie was the wrong call. Every game at home or every pivotal game was in the hands of the refs. ... What I am disappointed in is the game continued to get taken out of the players' hands.''

Nikolai Khabibulin, inconsistent early in the series, was outstanding in overtime and finished with 60 saves for the Lightning. Kolzig had 44.

Tampa Bay's Dave Andreychuk sent the game to overtime with a power-play goal with 4:06 remaining in regulation. The puck came to him on a fortuitous deflection off the skate of Capitals defenseman Ken Klee.

Peter Bondra scored during a second-period power play for the Capitals.

Andreychuk's goal was Tampa Bay's first that wasn't scored by a member of the Lecavalier-St. Louis-Vaclav Prospal line since it was formed in Game 3. Cassidy put his top line led by Jagr against the Lecavalier line this game and finally shut it down until St. Louis' game-winner.

We open the door for them, and Marty St. Louis' line kicked it down every time,'' Cassidy said.

A roughing call after the whistle on Ben Clymer the type of penalty the Lightning avoided for the better part of three games led to Bondra's fourth goal of the series.

That score ended an 0-for-13 power-play slump by the Capitals. It also gave Washington its first lead since the end of Game 2.



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