TAMPA, Fla. – Colorado goalie Jose Theodore was the big star on the ice. Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella stole the post-game spotlight.
Theodore made 22 of his 32 saves in the third period, leading the Avalanche past the Lightning 3-0 on Tuesday night. It was his 24th career shutout, and first since Feb. 28, 2004, against Carolina. He had gone 109 games without recording a shutout.
“It feels like it’s been a while, obviously,” Theodore said. “Everytime you enter a game, you always think about the shutout. You want to win, but when you look back, it’s always a bonus. A shutout is really a team effort.”
Tampa Bay’s poor play through the first two periods resulted in a heated post-game media session by Tortorella.
“It’s probably the most embarrassed and disappointed I’ve been since I’ve been here,” Tortorella said. “I’ve never been more embarrassed.”
The Lightning, last in the Eastern Conference, have lost 12 of 15.
Jeff Finger and Paul Stastny had power-play goals for the Avalanche, who have won three games in a row. Milan Hejduk added an empty-net goal with 1:34 left.
“It was one of those games where special teams got us the win in the end,” Stastny said.
Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier was held without a point for the third straight game, his longest drought this season.
Colorado’s struggling power play converted its first opportunity when Finger snapped a personal 18-game goal-scoring drought at 5:30 of the second. The Avalanche entered with the second-worst power-play unit in the NHL, and had just one man-advantage goal in 29 chances over the previous nine games.
Stastny made it 2-0 with a rebound goal on Colorado’s third power-play with 3:33 left in the second. It was the fifth time this season, and first since Dec. 9, that the Avalanche scored more than one power-play goal.
Colorado outshot Tampa Bay 20-10 through two periods, including 11-3 in the second. Theodore was rarely tested during the stretch, but did stop a high-slot shot by Brad Richards late in the second.
The Lightning’s Karri Ramo kept his team within two by making a glove save on Tyler Arnason’s shot from the low slot early in the third. He finished with 22 saves.
“Our second period, it was awful,” Ramo said. “We didn’t have any energy.”
Tampa Bay had 10 of the first 12 shot during the opening six minutes of the third, but Theodore turned aside an in-close shot by Martin St. Louis.
“I thought he was rock solid,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “He looks real sharp in this last stretch of games, and tonight was as good as we’ve seen him.”
The Lightning failed to convert on two power plays, both coming in the third.
“I don’t know why, but we didn’t realize we were in a game until the third period,” Richards said. “We didn’t get a power play until the third because we didn’t have the puck and didn’t want the puck. We didn’t try to get the puck. We were down 2-0 because we didn’t come to play.”
When asked if he was disappointed by the Lightning’s first two periods, Richards said: “Yeah.”
Asked about a reason for the slow start, the Tampa Bay centre stared forward and didn’t have an answer.
Notes: It was also the first time this season Colorado had more than one power-play goal in a road game. … There were two fights in the opening 1:51. … This was the first time Colorado played in Tampa since a 5-4 overtime win over the Lightning on Jan. 19, 2004. … Tampa Bay completed a swap of minor leaguers with Dallas, sending defenceman Dan Jancevski to the Stars for right wing Junior Lessard.