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Same problems make Lightning 2-1 losers to Rangers again

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Barry Melrose completed a tough assignment on Sunday.

The Lightning coach was angry in his assessment of a second straight 2-1 loss to the Rangers at O2 Arena. But he still found a way to work in a one-liner.

"I think our guys think you'll get a two-minute minor if you shoot the puck," he said.

It is not a laughing matter when a team that spent millions trying to outgun the opposition was outshot 39-19 Sunday and a combined 80-40 in back-to-back games that ended a 10-day European trip.

"Our guys are trying to win without working, and that doesn't happen," Melrose said. "We have a sign in our mirror over our dressing room that says, 'Are you proud of what you see?' Right now I don't think that many guys are proud of what they see."

Olaf Kolzig should be an exception. The goaltender made 37 saves and matched Mike Smith's effort in Game 1 in giving the team a chance to win.

More common, though, were scenes like this:

• The Lightning being outshot 15-3 in the first period.

• Wing Adam Hall giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead with his tip-in goal with 1:43 left in the first period and getting the team's next shot — 11 minutes, 34 seconds later, in the second.

• The Lightning outshot 18-6 in the second period and allowing goals by Wade Redden, on the power play, and Scott Gomez.

"I hope our guys were embarrassed by that second period," Melrose said. "I'm sure our ownership and management were."

• A 0-for-5 power play (0-for-9 in the two games) that generated four shots.

• Center Steven Stamkos being called for hooking with 57.9 seconds left in the game just as Kolzig was to be pulled.

• Vinny Lecavalier, way off his game, watching the puck roll off his stick in front of the net with 11.2 seconds left after a perfect setup pass from Vinny Prospal.

"It was a great pass," Lecavalier said. "The defenseman was right there, and I didn't really have much room to do anything with it. It kind of rolled off my stick, too, at the same time. It was a great chance, but at the same time, it wasn't really."

There's more, but you get the idea.

"The top lines, there just feels like there's no chemistry," center Jussi Jokinen said. "I think everybody is trying to do it themselves. You hope to find the chemistry right away, but sometimes it takes time."

Melrose tried to generate some by putting Ryan Malone on Lecavalier's line and right wing Marty St. Louis with Stamkos.

A line he didn't touch: center Chris Gratton with Hall and Gary Roberts. That's supposed to be the fourth line, folks. But for the second game, it was Tampa Bay's best.

"I went in between periods and said my biggest problem is I can't play Gratton's line every shift," Melrose said. "They were the best line by far. They win the most battles.

"We just have to get our great players playing as hard as our lesser players and we'll be fine. … We have to get back to the simple mind-set. Great players that keep it simple are very tough to play against."

Right now, the Lightning is easy.

Lightning 1 0 0 1
Rangers 0 2 0 2

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Hall 1 (Meszaros, Gratton), 18:17. PenaltiesDubinsky, NYR (roughing), 4:52; Malone, TB, major (fighting), 7:08; Voros, NYR, major (fighting), 7:08; Mihalik, TB (high-sticking), 13:44.

Second Period2, N.Y. Rangers, Redden 1 (Naslund, Gomez), 3:47 (pp). 3, N.Y. Rangers, Gomez 1 (Voros, Redden), 12:12. PenaltiesJokinen, TB (tripping), 2:12; Rozsival, NYR (hooking), 17:14.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesStaal, NYR (interference), 6:37; Dawes, NYR (roughing), 9:25; Malone, TB (tripping), 13:04; Rozsival, NYR (interference), 13:47; Stamkos, TB (hooking), 19:02. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 3-6-10—19. N.Y. Rangers 15-18-6—39. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 0 of 5; N.Y. Rangers 1 of 4. GoaliesTampa Bay, Kolzig 0-1-0 (39 shots-37 saves). N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 2-0-0 (19-18). A17,085 (18,000). T2:20. RefereesKerry Fraser, Rob Shick. LinesmenMike Cvik, Mark Pare.

Same problems make Lightning 2-1 losers to Rangers again 10/05/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 8:50am]

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