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Nonstars help Tampa Bay Lightning win shootouts

SUNRISE — Remember when watching the Lightning in a shootout meant watching the team shoot itself in the foot?

No more, it seems.

Tampa Bay is 5-2 this season in shootouts and has won five straight.

That the Lightning is having shootout success is one thing. Before its win streak, the team since 2008-09 was 7-19. That it is doing it without Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier is another.

Those three standouts, a combined 9-of-49 since 2008-09, are on the bench — at least until the later rounds.

In their place have been defenseman Victor Hedman (2-for-5 this season) and forwards Adam Hall (2-for-4), Ryan Malone (2-for-3) and Dominic Moore (2-for-3), whose slick pull-up move Friday on Florida G Tomas Vokoun was the winner.

The goal was reviewed to make sure Moore did not hit the puck twice as it ticked off Vokoun's right skate. But replays did not show conclusive evidence of a double touch.

"I thought it could go either way," Moore said. "To me, it felt like all one follow-through. Maybe it's one of those things if the call on the ice was different, the review would have been different. But at the end, I think it was the right call."

Coach Guy Boucher seems to have made the right call going away from his top-end players.

"Because if you're one of the top scorers, you always feel that if you miss it's the end of the world," he said. "You're supposed to score … versus a guy who never goes. For him, it's, 'Great, I'm getting an opportunity,' rather than, 'I can't screw it up.' "

Hall agreed.

"You want to win the game, so there's always some competitive pressure," he said. "There's that competitive feeling that you want to make a difference. You just concentrate on what you're doing and try to help the team win."

St. Louis said he has no problem being an observer.

"I love being on the bench and winning games in a shootout," he said. "I had my chance to prove myself, but really, it's not the best part of my game. I have the pompom, and I'm okay with it. But if they need me, I'm ready to go."

UNEVEN: The Panthers had seven power plays and 10:37 in power-play time to the Lightning's one power play of 1:21.

Asked if he had a problem with the way the game was called by referees Dennis LaRue and Brian Pochmara, Boucher cleared his throat twice and said, "How long do I turn this tongue, here? Well, nope, they made us practice our penalty kill and stay focused."

"You've got to rise to the challenge and not complain about it," Moore said. "You lose your focus that way."

ODDS AND ENDS: Stamkos' assist on Steve Downie's goal gave him 66 points (on 29 assists and a league-best 37 goals) to tie Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the league lead. … G Mike Smith, with AHL Norfolk on a conditioning stint, dressed Friday but did not play. Neither did D Marc-Andre Bergeron (knee). … Tampa Bay, which has played a league-high 29 road games, plays its next 12 at home. ... The Lightning is 7-14-2 at Florida since 2003-04. … F Mattias Ritola and D Matt Smaby were scratched.

Nonstars help Tampa Bay Lightning win shootouts 01/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 22, 2011 12:31am]
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