TAMPA — They talked before opening night about the importance of a strong start, of getting wins now so they wouldn't be chasing points and a better playoff seeding later in the year.
Then the season began and the Lightning players talked about the need to score first in games, that they can't play from behind every night and expect to win.
Then October became November, and the talk shifted to playing more consistently, that winning one, then losing one was not getting them anywhere.
"We can talk about it all we want. It's about going out there and doing it," goalie Ben Bishop said. "We know what we need to do. We have to be more consistent and try to churn off some wins here instead of win one, win two, lose one. We want to get those three, four, five, six games in a row. We need to be more consistent to do that."
The Lightning begins a five-game road trip Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y., against the Islanders having alternated wins and losses over its past six games.
One step forward, one step back.
Monday's game starts a stretch in which the Lightning plays 12 of 17 games on the road. It will be during this 17-game run that the Lightning will try to find its groove.
"We'll look to get back on track," captain Steven Stamkos said.
The Lightning began the season with three straight wins — its only three-game winning streak of the season. It answered a home loss to Colorado with two wins to open the first road trip of the year. That was the last time the Lightning won back-to-back games.
What followed was a three-game losing streak, then the string of win, lose, win, lose, win, lose.
The Lightning is 3-6 after opening the season 5-1.
"We'll have to find a way to be more consistent and find ways to win," Stamkos said. "We've played some good hockey teams and haven't quite got our game to the level that we expect it to be (at) and need it to be, so we'll look to continue to get better."
When asked after Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Sharks if the problem is more mental than physical, Bishop said, "I think so. I don't think anybody's out of shape. It's just kind of digging down deep, and we've got to have the attitude we want to win every single game and we want to beat every single opponent. We can't have the 'go out there and see what happens' attitude. Got to take it to them and really want to dominate."
The good news is the Lightning opens the trip against the Islanders. This is the third meeting between the two this month. The Lightning won the first two by a combined 10-2. It chased the Islanders' starting goalie in both games.
Though the Lightning has trouble scoring in the first period, it has five first-period goals against the Islanders.
The frustration of this opening stretch flowed from Stamkos after Saturday's loss. He met the media in the front of the dressing room as soon as it was opened and refused to put a positive spin on anything.
"We'll try to bounce back from this. It doesn't matter who we're playing," Stamkos said. "After a loss, we have to find a way to get back. We need to get some consistency in our game. We haven't seen that. We play good game, bad game. We've had a couple of bad ones in a row. We just haven't put any good ones in a row, and good ones (without a win) aren't getting any points (in the standings)."
NUTS AND BOLTS: Defenseman Anton Stralman is considered day-to-day with the upper-body injury suffered during Saturday's third period. Earlier in the game he became the second Lightning defenseman to score this season.