Bolts lack buzz

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Life as the defending Stanley Cup champions has not been a bowl of cherries for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A rant by coach John Tortorella after the first period last night did little to inspire the club, which lost for the second time in as many road games and has strung together an ordinary record of 7-6-0-2. That's below .500 in layman's terms.

"He does not like losing, just like any of us, and then we come to Toronto and we are down by two after 20 (minutes)," Martin St. Louis said after a 5-3 setback to the Maple Leafs. "We were close (at the end), but not good enough."

Though it boasts the talents of players such as St. Louis, the winner of the Hart Trophy in 2003-04, Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Vaclav Prospal, the Lightning entered last night with a power play that was ranked 27th in the 30-team NHL. Tampa was 2-for-7 with man advantage last night, but Tortorella found no solace there.

What also troubled the emotional coach was his club's inability to stay out of the penalty box. The Maple Leafs were 2-for-8 on power plays. Twice, Lightning players (St. Louis and Darryl Sydor) were assessed double minors for high-sticking.

St. Louis' infraction cut Darcy Tucker in the first period, and Tucker scored on the ensuing power play.

After Tampa came back to within 4-3 midway through the third period, Sydor cut Alexei Ponikarovsky with 3:13 remaining, virtually ensuring a Leafs victory. Chad Kilger scored into an empty net with less than five seconds to play.

"Stupid penalties, stupid penalties ... and they are penalties," Tortorella said. "I don't care what they look like. Most of the year we have taken care of that, but at a crucial time when we had them on the run, we just absolutely blow ourselves up by sitting in the box. That's why you don't win."

Tortorella preached to his club earlier this season about the perils of resting on their Cup laurels. But perhaps the players should be given a history lesson, and be reminded of what made them defeat the Calgary Flames in the spring of 2004.

"I can just tell personally that we are not as sharp as we were in the past," Richards said. "We found ways to win and we have to start doing that really quick here."


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