Advertisement
  1. Archive

BEST EFFORT, THE SAME RESULT

The Lightning looks it sharpest yet but can't score and falls to the Wild to remain winless.

In terms of battling for a full 60 minutes, the Lightning played its best game of the season Saturday night. It wasn't enough.

Facing one of the game's hottest teams and its lights-out goaltender, Tampa Bay fell 1-0 to the Wild in a shootout at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Niklas Backstrom made 32 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout. The Lightning's Mike Smith made 21 saves and allowed only Antti Miettinen to score in the shootout.

It was Tampa Bay's fifth game without a win to open the season (0-2-3), matched only by the 1998-99 season, when it went 0-4-1. It also was the first time the team opened a season with five straight one-goal games.

Considering all that, the point for a regulation tie in which both goalies were credited with shutouts wasn't all that satisfying.

"I think we were a better team than Minnesota," defenseman Andrej Meszaros said. "Sometimes you don't deserve to win, but I think today we did."

All the Lightning had to do was score once. But Backstrom, who is 11-0-4 in his past 16 starts going back to last season, would not allow it.

One thing the Lightning did not want to do against the Wild was go to the penalty box. Minnesota entered the game with the league's second-best power play at 42.9 percent.

But 2:37 into the game, wing David Koci, playing in his first game of the season, was called for holding. Ten seconds after getting out of the penalty box, he was called for interference.

The Wild had three power-play chances in the period but came up empty. Tampa Bay missed a terrific opportunity with the man advantage when Colton Gillies was given four minutes for high sticking and drawing blood from the nose of Meszaros. But the Lightning couldn't make anything of it and even allowed a two-on-one on which Smith was forced to a save on Miettinen's wrist shot from in close.

Steven Stamkos, who got some power-play time in an effort to get him going, had two shots, his best coming at 6:10 when he ripped a snap shot Backstrom clipped with his right leg.

The second period continued a trend of tight checking and stifling neutral zone defense by the Wild that limited offensive chances.

Even so, a hard-working Tampa Bay, which outshot the Wild 13-6 in the first period, got Backstrom's attention.

Vinny Lecavalier dished to Marty St. Louis on the left wing 25 seconds into the period, and Backstrom made a nice leg save, and Adam Hall used an energetic forecheck to gather a puck and tried to stuff it past Backstrom at 1:11.

Smith, who had little to do, had to be sharp with 9:25 remaining when Stephane Veilleux snapped a shot off left wing that the goalie saved with his left leg.

Smith was challenged again with 3:22 left by a sneaky turnaround shot by Mikko Koivu off the right wing boards that was followed by Andrew Brunette's big blast from the high slot that Smith smothered against his body.

Meszaros had Backstrom beat with his own shot from the high slot with 1:34 remaining, but the puck went just wide.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement