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Good intentions backfire on Tampa Bay Lightning's Konopka

SUNRISE — Lightning C Zenon Konopka's heart was in the right place when he fought Panthers LW Nick Tarnasky with 6:48 left in Sunday's first period.

Tarnasky, a former Lightning, had, as Konopka put it, "hammered" C Paul Szczechura and LW Todd Fedoruk with hard checks. Konopka said he was sticking up for his teammates.

But Konopka's instigator penalty led to Nathan Horton's power-play goal with 5:48 remaining, the first of three goals in 4:16 that gave Florida a 3-1 lead.

"I don't have a lot of minor penalties," said Konopka, who leads the league with 231 penalty minutes and 27 fights. "The minor penalties I have are coincidental. I try not to put our team at a disadvantage. I pride myself on it, so it's frustrating."

Konopka said he waited "a second" to "engage" Tarnasky so he would not get an instigator. "But the refs saw a different story," he said. "You've got to stand up for your teammates and make sure there are repercussions if a guy's going to run around."

Coach Rick Tocchet said he had no problem with Konopka, who decked Tarnasky in the fight, their second of the period. "We thought it was a late hit," he said of Tarnasky's hit on Szczechura.

ROLE REVERSAL: D Matt Smaby was scratched for the second straight game and sixth time in 12 games.

"There are certain parts of his game he has to get better at," Tocchet said. "He has to be able to handle the puck, make good decisions and not throw the puck away. He's had a tough year when it comes to that."

"Especially," Smaby said, "when I know the level I can play at."

Smaby averaged 19:05 of ice time in 43 games last season, most of which were played with a broken right foot. This season, Smaby, 25, is averaging 13:39 in 32 games. He is minus-7 in his past eight. "It hasn't been fun," Smaby said. "There have been times when I was really down on myself about myself and my game."

Smaby, buried in the depth chart early, did not play an NHL game until Dec. 2.

"Maybe that hurt his growth," Tocchet said. "He still has the ability to be an NHL defenseman. … I told him he has to play mean. That's his niche, a good defensive defenseman who plays mean."

FOND MEMORIES: RW Mark Parrish was scratched, denying him a chance to play against the team with which he broke in as a rookie in 1998-99.

"It's your first love, in a way," he said. "It's the team that gave you a chance. It's always going to hold a special place in your heart."

Parrish's four goals on Oct. 30, 1998, against the Blackhawks set the Florida record matched by Pavel Bure against the Lightning on Jan. 1, 2000.

GOODBYE, LOU: Lou Jankowski, who played 130 NHL games with the Red Wings and Blackhawks from 1950-55, and who has been a fixture in the St. Pete Times Forum press box as a friend of the program, died Sunday at 78.

ODDS AND ENDS: D Victor Hedman (plus-1) was Tampa Bay's only plus player. … The Lightning has lost three of four to the Panthers this season. … D David Hale played his 300th NHL game.

Good intentions backfire on Tampa Bay Lightning's Konopka 03/21/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:47pm]
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