TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ The Tampa Bay Lightning were beaten at their own game.
``We lost most races to the puck. We lost most battles in the corners,''
defenseman Dan Boyle said after Tuesday night's 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames
in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. ``It was definitely one those nights we
want to forget.''
Coming off the biggest win in franchise history, a 2-1 victory over
Philadelphia in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Lightning played
like the newcomers they are to the NHL's biggest stage.
The offense sputtered, squandering several opportunities to turn the game
around. And goalie Nikolai Khabibulin wasn't nearly as good as he'll have to be
if the Lightning want to avoid falling into a deeper hole Thursday night.
Coach John Tortorella has no doubts the team will bounce back in Game 2.
``I think you've got to be careful when you assess your hockey team that you
don't blow their brains out with the few minutes here and there that you
struggled,'' the coach said, shrugging off a question about whether the Flames
played with more hustle and desperation.
``It's an easy thing to say you lose 4-1, we have got to play harder. I am
not going to be a dummy and say that. I will look at the tape. We'll find some
other things that we need to improve on, and we'll go about our business and
try to get better.''
One of the adjustments figures to come on the power play. Tampa Bay was
1-for-5 after going 9-for-23 (39 percent) in producing one man-advantage goals
in the last six games of the conference finals.
Even more distressing for the Lightning, the Flames created short-handed
scoring opportunities on all three of Tampa Bay's power plays in the first two
Jarome Iginla's short-handed goal gave Calgary a 2-0 lead when it looked
like the Lightning might be on the verge of tying the score.
The goal was set up when Dave Andreychuk's pass skipped over Fredrik Modin's
stick into the neutral zone. The speedy Iginla chased down the puck, batted it
ahead before catching up again and firing at Khabibulin.
The Lightning goalie got his glove up to make the stop, but an alert Iginla
stopped on a dime when he saw the puck bounce to Khabibulin's right.
Modin, thinking the puck went over the net, circled to the left of the
goalie, leaving Iginla wide open.
``One thing with our power play, when it's going, we're holding on to the
puck. I thought we were a little skittish with it,'' Tortorella said. ``We were
just throwing it away and didn't really get it into a setup. But we'll bounce
back with that and try to get some of the problem straightened out.''
The Lightning took solace in picking up the tempo in the third period.
Although Martin St. Louis trimmed their deficit to 3-1 with a power-play
goal, that was as close as Tampa Bay would get.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff finished with 23 saves.
``I don't think they outworked us. They outplayed us,'' said Andreychuk,
appearing in his first Stanley Cup finals in his 22nd season.
``It's going to be a long series,'' Modin said. ``They got the first one. We
have to make sure we're ready for the next one.''