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Oilers hold off Lightning

After a great beginning with a win in Calgary, the Tampa Bay Lightning's four-game road trip has gone downhill as fast as Tommy Moe.

The Lightning couldn't recover from a disastrous 7{-hour traveling ordeal, a 21-second lapse in the second period and its own inability to score. As a result, Tampa Bay lost its second game in a row, 3-2 to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday before a crowd of 11,798.

The loss followed a 3-1 loss to Vancouver, a game the Lightning controlled until the final 15 minutes, when the Canucks scored thanks to a lucky bounce and a Lightning mistake.

"It's frustrating because I think we could have won all three games," Lightning wing Rob DiMaio said. "Tonight we had so many good chances to score. Just (goalie Bill) Ranford played well, and they capitalized on our mistakes. It's the story of our life. We've got to correct the little things, so they won't keep happening."

None of the players would use the traveling ordeal as an excuse. "These kinds of things happen to all teams," said center Denis Savard, who was playing in his 1,000th game. "The team played hard; unfortunately we didn't win.

The Lightning, despite arriving at its hotel at 5:30 a.m. Sunday because of customs problems with its chartered flight, produced a good offensive attack with 35 shots on goal.

But the lack of a finishing touch did in the Lightning again. And Ranford, playing in his league-high 59th game, made some great saves. "Ranford is underrated," former Lightning defenseman Bob Beers said.

The Lightning's goals came from Gerard Gallant (second with Tampa Bay) and Rob DiMaio (the first Lightning player this season to score goals in three consecutive games).

DiMaio, who has been injured and has lacked confidence, has been playing well since joining the line with Brian Bradley and John Tucker in the Calgary game.

"I think we came out of our doldrums in Calgary," Tucker said. "We've been clicking as a line."

Defensively, the Lightning wasn't as sharp as it has been recently, leaving Daren Puppa to fend for himself often and failing to clear rebounds.

But the Lightning held the Oilers to 26 shots. The problem arose when the Oilers broke a 1-1 tie, scoring bang-bang goals 21 seconds apart in the second period.

"Those (21) seconds took us out of the game, which is too bad for what we've gone through in the last 24 hours," coach Terry Crisp said.

Edmonton center Shjon Podein did most of the damage. He contributed to all three Oilers goals to snap a seven-game scoreless streak since being called up from the Oilers farm team in Cape Breton on Feb.


He scored twice and assisted on Scott Pearson's 13th goal.

The Lightning's scoring woes weren't helped Sunday. Petr Klima, the team's leading scorer with 23 goals and 24 assists, incurred a slight shoulder separation and is expected to be out for at least two weeks.

"(Adam Bennett) hit me into the boards and the bone in my shoulder pushed up," Klima explained. "It was a clean hit."

The Lightning had another scare when Puppa was hit in the right shoulder by the puck, off a blast from rookie Jason Arnott. Puppa went down in a heap but was able to finish the game.

Gallant, who had been scratched for the previous five games, scored on a blast from the left wing. DiMaio, who fought for position in the slot, tipped in Danton Cole's wrist shot.

"We need more guys going to the net and making things happen," he said. "If I'm not a Mr. Smoothie, I'd better be a Mr. Crash-and-Bang. Too many guys on this team think they're Mr. Smoothies. "You see Edmonton, that's how they scored their goals, driving to the net."

Podein scored his first goal off a rebound of Pearson's shot. Podein scored his second goal by going to the net and converting a nice pass from Dean McAmmond. Pearson scored his goal by putting in the rebound of McAmmond's shot.

"I can't be mad at our effort, we outshot them (35-26), outchanced them," Crisp said. "We just didn't outscore them."

Tucker said the team is disappointed but noted that it can come out of this road trip at .500 with a win Tuesday in Washington.

"We know we have to start playing better than .500 if we want to make the playoffs," he said. "The last 20 games are very hard games. They will tell the character of the team. We'll see what we can do."