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Tabaracci's verdict: Defense shouldn't rest

His last victory came March 4, seven starts ago. He has played in 49 games, six more than any other season in his career. And he seems close to hitting the proverbial wall, if not having rammed into it already.

But don't for a minute think _ even after the latest blemish on his record, the Lightning's 3-2 loss late Saturday night _ that Rick Tabaracci wants to rest.

"Maybe we've relied on goaltending a bit too much this season, but that's okay," Tabaracci said. "I get paid to stop the puck."

Tabaracci failed to do that just once Saturday, and it proved costly.

Tampa Bay was down 2-1 when Tabaracci entered the game not quite four minutes into the second period, the Canucks having scored their second goal when Adrian Aucoin's power-play wrist shot from the right point went in beneath the arm of starter Corey Schwab.

Schwab earned the right to start after making eight saves in relief of Tabaracci as the Lightning overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 4-3 victory at Calgary on Friday.

He gave up a rebound goal to Vancouver's Martin Gelinas early in the opening period. Chris Gratton tied it in the first minute of the second, blasting Rob Zamuner's drop pass past Corey Hirsch.

But when Aucoin answered that, Schwab exited and Tabaracci entered.

Just more than two minutes later, Tabaracci made an aggressive mistake. He left his net, as he so often does, and wrapped the puck around the end boards, only to have Larry Bohonos intercept it and pass into the slot to Markus Naslund, who tapped it in before Tabaracci could get back into position. John Cullen would score off a similar mistake by Hirsch, but it would not be enough.

Tabaracci made no apologies for his tenacity, and suggested that if his teammates played with as much, Tampa Bay wouldn't find itself in some of the predicaments it does: "We've got to get a little growly, a little tenacious out there. If that's what it's gonna take, hopefully everybody will feed off it."

With 10 games to go in its regular season, and the Lightning behind the pack in its drive for a second straight playoff berth, Tampa Bay had best get hungry in a hurry.

"The goals are gonna come for us," Tabaracci said. "The biggest thing we have to do is get back to playing solid defense."

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