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Tampa Bay Lightning living dangerously with penalties

Lightning defenseman Brett Clark is called for hooking against the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin on this play in the second period.


Lightning defenseman Brett Clark is called for hooking against the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin on this play in the second period.

TAMPA — As good, if not great, as the Lightning penalty kill unit has been throughout the playoffs, C Nate Thompson said Tuesday the team is "playing with fire" by taking so many penalties against the Capitals.

Washington is 1-for-16 in this Eastern Conference semifinal on the power play. Its goal came from Alex Ovechkin on a 5-on-3 in the second period of Tampa Bay's 4-3 win in Game 3 on Tuesday. That snapped a streak of 32 consecutive kills by the Lightning.

But the Capitals also nearly had another power-play goal, by Mike Knuble in the first, which was nullified by a Washington penalty.

The Lightning has killed off 49 of 51 power plays in the playoffs (96 percent). But, LW Sean Bergenheim said, "it's not going to go on forever."

"We're taking penalties at key moments of the game. That could bite us," Thompson said. "And if we keep doing it, it's going to bite us."

It's not so much that Tampa Bay is taking penalties. It's the kind of penalties the Lightning is taking. Eight of the 16 calls against it in the first three games of this series were for hooking, and two were for holding.

"It's one thing to take a hitting penalty or roughing penalty," Thompson said. "If you're hitting a guy, that's okay, we'll kill those penalties. But it's the stick penalties, the tripping, holding, hooking. You can't do that. If we limit those, we'll be better."

OBJECTION: Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said the Lightning's final goal, the winner from Ryan Malone that broke a 3-3 tie 5:47 into the third period, should not have counted.

"If you look at it, Malone's driving the net, and he pushes our player (defenseman John Carlson) into our goaltender (Michal Neuvirth) and (Neuvirth) can't kick out his right leg to make the save,'' Boudreau said. "It's a no-goal, no penalty call. … I don't think it should have counted."

NO WORRIES: It was scary for the Lightning early in the third when G Dwayne Roloson was face-first on the ice in the crease after Ovechkin's stick caught him underneath his mask. Roloson was attended to by head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan and stayed in the game. Roloson said he was fine and didn't expect any problems going forward.

STILL OUT: Though the team said LW Simon Gagne (upper body) and D Pavel Kubina (upper body) are day-to-day, it doesn't appear either will be back until this weekend at the earliest.

Both missed their second consecutive game Tuesday after hitting their heads in Friday's Game 1 against the Capitals (Gagne on the ice, Kubina against the glass). They are doubtful for tonight's Game 4.

"If I want them to play (tonight), I better start praying," coach Guy Boucher said before Tuesday's game.

Kubina, in his first public comments since being injured, said he is getting "better and better every day" but declined to discuss any problems he might have and said he isn't sure when he'll return.

He also declined to comment on the hit that hurt him, a check into the glass by LW Jason Chimera, who used his elbow. A roughing penalty was called.

MISCELLANY: Boucher said C Blair Jones was "outstanding" in Tuesday's win, logging 5:59 of ice time.

Tampa Bay Lightning living dangerously with penalties 05/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 3:41pm]
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