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Tampa Bay Lightning's loss to Pittsburgh Penguins adds to unease at deadline

TAMPA — Rick Tocchet gave his players today off.

The Lightning coach said it was so they could rest after having just one day to recuperate from a week-long trip through western Canada before facing the red-hot Penguins Tuesday night.

It did not, Tocchet said, have anything to do with today's 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Even so, captain Vinny Lecavalier said being away from the rink on a day of potential upheaval is probably good.

"There are always people who are a little nervous," he said after a 3-1 loss at the St. Pete Times Forum. "Maybe their heads aren't into skating. They really want to know what's going on or if there are any rumors about themselves.

"It's a tough day. You try to stay with your cell phones and check what's going on. There's nothing else you can do."

There is a chance Tampa Bay (21-31-12) will have a significantly different look at Thursday's practice.

"We've got the potential to be very active," general manager Brian Lawton said. "A lot of framework was done (Tuesday). … We established a kind of floor, so to speak, for value."

Right wing Mark Recchi, 41, with 13 goals and 45 points, is a hot commodity for playoff-bound teams looking for an offensive spark. Left wing Gary Roberts, 42, is on waivers because a trade could not be made.

We will know at noon today if Roberts is claimed. Both players were scratched against Pittsburgh to avoid an injury that would scuttle a potential move. To fill the roster spots, forwards Paul Szczechura and Brandon Segal were called up from AHL Norfolk.

Tocchet declined to speculate on how the team might change.

"Nothing happened (Tuesday)," he said. "Maybe nothing will happen (today)."

Doubtful, as Lawton has said he wants to add draft choices.

Still, he said, "We're tight with our players. We're not looking to give them away. If people are going to make meaningful offers to move the organization forward, we will act. But we won't act for the sake of acting."

If players are worried, they did not show it against the Penguins, 6-1-1 under interim coach Dan Bylsma and 4-0-0 without captain Sidney Crosby (groin).

Tampa Bay matched Pittsburgh's 33 shots, but 17 others missed the net.

"I don't know how many shots I had blocked, but it was far too many," defenseman Cory Murphy said.

Vinny Prospal scored his 17th goal. Goalie Karri Ramo had 30 saves, but allowed Chris Kunitz two tallies off rebounds.

"You might have people who are on pins and needles," Tocchet said. "That's the business we're in. People get fired. People get traded. You need to be strong mentally to play this game."

And sometimes you need a day off.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Penguins 2 1 0 3
Lightning 1 0 0 1
Penguins 2 1 0 3
Lightning 1 0 0 1

First Period1, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 18 (Kennedy), 7:38. 2, Tampa Bay, Prospal 17 (Lecavalier, Malone), 12:23. 3, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 19 (Sykora, Malkin), 16:44 (pp). PenaltiesMurphy, TB (holding), :21; Prospal, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:53; Gill, Pit (hooking), 18:14; Hall, TB (high-sticking), 18:14.

Second Period4, Pittsburgh, Cooke 9 (Dupuis, Talbot), 12:26. PenaltiesGodard, Pit, major (fighting), 2:38; Koci, TB, major (fighting), 2:38; Orpik, Pit (cross-checking), 6:21; Pettinger, TB (cross-checking), 19:25.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesNone. Shots on GoalPittsburgh 12-13-8—33. Tampa Bay 11-11-11—33. Power-play opportunitiesPittsburgh 1 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 1. GoaliesPittsburgh, Fleury 25-16-4 (33 shots-32 saves). Tampa Bay, Ramo 2-6-1 (33-30). A19,908 (19,758). T2:20. RefereesRob Martell, Dan O'Rourke. LinesmenBrad Kovachik, Pierre Racicot.

Penguins 3

Lightning 1

Tampa Bay Lightning's loss to Pittsburgh Penguins adds to unease at deadline 03/03/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 1:11am]

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