The Tampa Bay Lightning came up short in the shootout tonight, as their attempt to sweep the Phoenix Coyotes in their two game series fell short, 4-3.
Tampa Bay got on the scoreboard first with just over two minutes gone in the opening period when Ryan Malone aimed a shot through the traffic in front of the Coyote net. By the time Phoenix goaltender Jason LaBarbera found the puck it was in the twine behind him. Defenseman Victor Hedman, the second overall pick in this year’s entry draft, assisted on the goal.
The Lightning continued their excellent penalty killing as Matt Lashoff was sent off for holding at 8:26. The Coyotes managed just one shot on net with the extra man as Tampa extended their shorthanded streak to o goals on 12 attempts.
Antero Nittymaki, in net for the Lightning, was the equal to every shot he faced in period one, as the stanza ended with the Coyotes outshooting the Lightning, 7-6.
Early in the second period, the Tampa Bay penalty killing streak ended at 12 when, with Lashoff in the penalty box for holding at 2:54, Radim Vrbata evened the score as he knocked a rebound past Nittymaki from the right side. The power play goal evened the score, 1-1.
Phoenix grabbed the lead at 4:53 with a shot from Scottie Upshall that worked through traffic from the right point and deflected into the Lightning net off the skate of a Tampa bay defender.
Tampa Bay evened the game at 2-2 on the power play with Adrian Aucoin in the penalty box for hooking. Steven Stamkos, the first overall pick in the 2008 NHL entry draft, was credited with the score at 10:17 of the period.
As the period drew to a close, the Coyotes skated off the ice once again outshooting Tampa Bay by a margin of 11 -5. The total shots on net after two periods showed an advantage for Phoenix, 18 – 11.
Early in the third period, Vincent Lecavalier established the advantage for Tampa Bay when his wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle ripped past LaBarbera at 3:16.
Thirty four seconds later, the Coyotes knotted the score at three apiece as Scottie Upshall got the equalizer as he knocked in the rebound of a shot by Vernon Fiddler for his second goal of the game and third in the two-game series with Tampa Bay.
Regulation play ended in a tie, 3-3, and the four-on-four overtime period produced no decision, so the two teams advanced to the shootout. Peter Mueller of Phoenix skated close to the crease and lifted the puck over Nittymaki for the Coyote win.
With that, the two-game pre-season series between these two teams concluded, with Phoenix going 1-1-0 while Tampa Bay produced a record of 1-0-1.
Tampa Bay, 2-1-2, has two more pre-season games to be played, beginning with tomorrow night’s match-up at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. The Lightning will cross the Canadian border one more time after tomorrow’s contest when they fly to Norfolk to scrimmage against their AHL representative, the Norfolk Admirals. They will conclude the pre-season in Atlanta against the Thrashers on September 27th.
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