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May 8, 2004

Ken Hitchcock


Q. What was your explanation of the goal? What were you told?
KEN HITCHCOCK: That it was a penalty on the play.
Q. Any thoughts on that?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I said, it was a goal. So, what are you going to do. One referee had a bad night tonight. Their goal that Kim cleared hit the referee in the back and stayed in the zone. Tough night.
Q. Do you expect that to be a problem for your team if you're not allowed to crash the net?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I don't think it's a problem. I think that, you know -- look, the call was early in the game, but we made two or three mistakes, and they capitalized on all of them. We did a great job of hemming in the zone, created the opportunities that we wanted and the chances that they got tonight, they finished on. And, you know, we turned, like I said -- the first goal hit the referee in the back, the clearing attempt, and bounced on to their stick, and the second goal we turned over on the half boards in our zone, and then we were -- we had them hemmed in on the third goal and we made a play again on the half boards that we intercepted and they were able to take that.
Q. Did you see anything during the game that you can change the game to get more shots on Khabibulin?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, I think, you know, they play well in this building, but, then, so did we. We played really well in this building.
I think the big thing for us is that once we are in the zone, we want to be able to maintain possession a little bit better. You know, we ended up with, right off the bat, two two-on-ones in a breakaway in the first period. I think against a team that can score like Tampa, you want to capitalize on those. We were not able to capitalize and get a lead after the first period, and it allowed them to stay in the hockey game.
Q. Did you buy into them having a little bit of rust there coming in? Did it look like that to you?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I don't think so. I think, you know, they are like any other home team in the playoffs. You're a little bit nervous probably. I don't really know.
I thought we lost a little bit of energy in the third period and maybe our series showed up for us a little bit in the third period.
Hard to fault our effort for the first two, I'll tell you that.
Q. Do you think you had enough quality chances in what you call the areas of risk?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Yeah, I think we created enough opportunities. They defended the front of the net well tonight. They have big players back there, and they did a pretty good job defending the front of the net.
Q. Do you think that was a knock against that team; that they were not real strong in front of their net, that they are stronger than advertised?
KEN HITCHCOCK: It might have been during the regular season at some period of time, but they have a goals-against-average under 1. That's pretty impressive. So they obviously know how to play defense. They are very good at it.
Q. You held Tampa Bay's Top 3 to no shots in the first two periods; did that give you hope?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Oh, yeah, we got so many -- compared to where we were with this team in February, it's like night and day. And if we can continue to improve on some of the things we did today. There's some really good stuff out there. But I don't know that you're going to beat them scoring one goal. We are going to have to get better play on our power play, we are going to have to get better play on, you know, scoring more than one goal, if we expect to beat this team.
But if we continue to build on the things we did today, there's a lot of good stuff out there.
Q. Are you past the point where you stop worrying about whether John LeClair is going to get out or not and you just have to play and see what's going on or are you still look for him?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Well, he had the no-brainer today. He had two two-on-ones. He had the no-brainer today and he kind of whiffed. I think he's a little bit snake bitten and squeezing a little bit tight. He played a heck of a hockey game. He was physical, he took away people's space. Unfortunately he didn't score on the two great opportunities he had, but if he continues to play this hard and this well, he is going to score goals.
Q. How do you approach Game 2 on Monday night, is it a must-win for your club?
KEN HITCHCOCK: It's pretty early for a must-win, but, like I said before, we have to win road games, and you don't want to get late in the series and have to win a road game. You want to try to win them as early as you can, and if we can win Game 2, then we can come back in our building in a pretty good frame of mind. But we did a lot of really good things today. However, like I said, we just have to score more than one goal.
Q. What's the single most encouraging part of this game for you?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I didn't notice their speed. I didn't see it, I didn't notice it. They got in -- they started icing the puck in the second period, and then they got in the flip game and they created some foot races. That's maybe where you saw it a little bit.
But turned a lot of pucks over today, which is good for us. That's a good sign. That means we're working.

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