TAMPA — You can pin the loss on the Ducks’ size and style of play, and how they forced the Lightning into playing their game.
Or you can blame it on the power-play goals — two for the Ducks; zero for the Lightning.
You can argue that nothing lasts forever when it comes to home winning streaks and point streaks.
You can mention the back-breaking, horn-beating goal by the Ducks at the end of the second period that turned the momentum in their favor.
You can argue that one or all those things played the biggest role in the Lightning’s 4-1 loss Saturday at Amalie Arena in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,092, and you would be right.
The Lightning (9-2-1) lost for the first time in seven home games this season, and Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov — who entered the day 1-2, respectively, in the league in scoring — were kept off the score sheet for the first time this season. They will stay tied with Marty St. Louis for the franchise’s longest point streak to start a season at 11 games.
"That was something we had to take on as a group," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said of shutting down the Lightning’s top line. "I thought we showed up and played hockey. We played the game that we wanted to."
Coach Jon Cooper called it "a bad hockey game," pointing to the 67 faceoffs caused by all the whistles for offside, pucks out of play, those sorts of things.
"There was no flow," he said.
That’s what the Ducks were hoping for.
"They’re a big, heavy team," Stamkos said. "They play pretty structured. They had the lead; they held on to it. We’ll have to find a way to have success against teams like that."
The Ducks led 2-0 on a pair of second-period power-play goals. The Lightning came up empty on three power plays during the same span.
But the Lightning grabbed the momentum when Chris Kunitz scored off a scramble in front of the net to make it 2-1 at 17:52 of the second.
The Lightning was on the attack after that. And it was on a rush when it turned the puck over with 12 seconds left in the period. That led to Hampus Lindholm’s goal with a tenth of a second left.
"We have to go into the third down one (and not give up the late goal)," Stamkos said. "That’s a killer, but we’ve been on the other end, and that happens."
The Lightning has scored twice in the same fashion at home this season. How much can allowing a goal like that be a backbreaker?
"The team that scored them are 3-0," Cooper said.
Peter Budaj was in net, but Cooper said the loss was not the fault of the backup goalie.
The Lightning allowed not only the two power-play goals, it gave up the goal to Lindholm from the high slot and a fourth goal when the defense broke down in front of Budaj.
"By no means is that (loss) on him," Cooper said.
It was a collective effort.
Give the Ducks credit for finding their game after an 8-3 thrashing by the Panthers on Thursday in Sunrise.
"We knew they were going to come and have a better game," Stamkos said. "We limited them to very few shots against and scoring chances. But in games where the puck seems to be bouncing here and there, special teams are big.
"Special teams had been good in the first 11 (games). It wasn’t as good (Saturday), and theirs was better."
First Period—None. Penalties—Getzlaf, ANA, (high sticking), 12:59.
Second Period—1, Anaheim, Rakell 2 (Montour, Getzlaf), 10:13 (pp). 2, Anaheim, Montour 3 (Getzlaf), 16:55 (pp). 3, Tampa Bay, Kunitz 1 (Callahan, Brown), 17:52. 4, Anaheim, Lindholm (Wagner), 19:59. Penalties—Ritchie, ANA, (slashing), 7:15; Callahan, TB, (interference), 9:16; Manson, ANA, (interference), 13:48; Tampa Bay bench, served by Brown (too many men on the ice), 15:53.
Third Period—5, Anaheim, Rakell 3 (Perry, Getzlaf), 8:59. Penalties—Silfverberg, ANA, (hooking), 6:18. Shots on Goal—Anaheim 5-8-8—21. Tampa Bay 10-12-10—32. Power-play opportunities—Anaheim 2 of 2; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. Goalies—Anaheim, Gibson 4-3-1 (32 shots-31 saves). Tampa Bay, Budaj 0-0-1 (21-17).