Sunday, April 11, 2004

Power failure in the sun belt!

The Tampa Bay Lightning went 0 for 7 on the power play Saturday afternoon, a telling statistic as to why they are now tied with the New York Islanders at one game apiece in their Eastern Quarterfinal series. Game Three heads for the Long Island on Monday night.

The Islanders made one change in their lineup for Saturday’s game, Eric Cairns was watching the game from the press box as he paid the price for the two turnovers on Thursday night. Tuinovers that set up the Lightning’s run on the score sheet, and while his coach wasn't blaming him in public, the message wasn't lost on his team mates. Sven Butchenson took his place in the line up and Rick DiPietro had a much better game kicking aside all 22 shots directed as his net. For DiPietro it was his first post season win, in only his second post season start. Over at the Bolts bench, Nikolai Khabibulin was not as steady Saturday in the Lightning end of the rink as he was on Thursday, as 3 of the 25 Islander shots made it into the Lightning net.

Tampa Bay’s top four scorers once again found themselves held off the scoring sheet for the second straight time. It was a bad time for an offensive breakdown, from normally reliable scoring lines. The Islander penalty killing units did their job keeping the Lightning not only off the board but off their game for most of the day.

Janne Niinimaa scored one and Jason Blake counted two goals on the way to the victory, which now gives the Islanders the home ice advantage as they prepare for Game Three. And they head into it with a renewed bit of confidence in their chances, the Islanders won three of four games in the regular season, and now 1of 2 in post season play. Don’t expect them to back down now, if they can play their game against the Lightning they think they have a very good chance of registering an upset in the first round.

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