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Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Phoenix Coyotes 3-2

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Lightning spent four days at a plush Scottsdale resort waiting for Thursday night's game with the Coyotes.

A little golf, great scenery and a lot of team bonding.

"It's a chance to recharge your battery kind of thing," coach Rick Tocchet said before the game. "Having said that, the guys better be ready to play. That's the mandate."

Tampa Bay followed it for about 10 minutes in a discouraging 3-2 loss at Jobing.com Arena.

Kyle Turris' midair deflection of David Hale's slap shot from the point broke a 2-2 tie 8:09 into the third period and snapped the Coyotes' six-game losing streak to Tampa Bay.

"I'm really disappointed in the team right now," Tocchet said afterward. "That was unacceptable. We never showed up. It's probably the most disappointed I've been as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning."

Andrej Meszaros scored his first goal and Jeff Halpern had a goal and an assist for the Lightning (11-19-10), which was outshot 27-24 and had only six shots in the third period. That was after Halpern tied the score at 2 with a power-play goal with 5:17 left in the second.

Goaltender Mike Smith, in his career-high 11th consecutive start, had little chance on Turris' deflection, which went almost straight down. He also had to be alert during the several times Lightning players, appearing at times as if the desert sun had sapped their stamina, were pinned for extended periods in their end.

"We stopped doing some things that would have made the game a bit easier," Halpern said. "We were out of position on things and spent a lot of the game chasing."

The Lightning, 5-18 in one-goal games, dominated the first 10 minutes, outshot the Coyotes 6-2 and took a 1-0 lead on Meszaros' goal. But Phoenix seized control and ended the period with a 1-1 tie and behind only 9-8 in shots.

Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was sharp and lucky. Vinny Prospal hit the post from the slot at 3:04 of the first, and Halpern's one-timer was stopped by a sliding Bryzgalov at 6:06 after Prospal's perfect cross-ice pass.

Tampa Bay took the lead 1-0 at 8:36 on Meszaros' goal from the high slot after Halpern's clean faceoff victory. Meszaros' shot hit the post and ricocheted in off Bryzgalov's back.

It was Meszaros' first goal in 61 games since Feb. 21 with the Senators. It came on his 67th shot of the season. His 66 entering the game were the most in the league among players who had not scored.

Phoenix, on an 8-1-1 run at home, tied the score with 7:43 left on Olli Jokinen's breakaway aided by Meszaros' coverage mistake. Jokinen, also a step ahead of Prospal in the defensive zone, had the puck poked away by the stick of a sprawling Smith. But the puck bounced off Jokinen's leg, off the post and in.

It was Jokinen's 25th goal in 50 games against Tampa Bay.

Phoenix went ahead 2-1 46 seconds into the second period on Peter Mueller's power-play goal. Halpern tied it when he pounced on the rebound of Prospal's shot that was blocked in front of the net.

Coyotes 1 1 1 3
Lightning 1 1 0 2

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Meszaros 1 (Halpern), 8:36. 2, Phoenix, O.Jokinen 14 (Doan, Michalek), 12:17. PenaltiesJ.Jokinen, TB (high-sticking), 14:57.

Second Period3, Phoenix, Mueller 9 (Reinprecht, Doan), :46 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Halpern 2 (Prospal, Recchi), 14:43 (pp). PenaltiesMeszaros, TB (hooking), :31; Malone, TB (hooking), 11:17; Bryzgalov, Pho, served by Carcillo (delay of game), 13:43.

Third Period5, Phoenix, Turris 6 (Hale, Reinprecht), 8:09. PenaltiesLisin, Pho (hooking), 19:54. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 9-9-6—24. Phoenix 8-11-8—27. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 2; Phoenix 1 of 3. GoaliesTampa Bay, M.Smith 9-15-9 (27 shots-24 saves). Phoenix, Bryzgalov 14-13-4 (24-22). A13,736 (17,125).

Coyotes 3

Lightning 2

Tampa Bay Lightning loses to Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 01/08/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 7:51pm]

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