CALGARY — Well, the Lightning finally getting completely healthy lasted a whole four periods.
Just one game after relishing having its full lineup intact, Tampa Bay lost veteran wing Ryan Callahan in Tuesday's second period with a lower-body injury.
The Lightning also lost the game, 3-1 to the Flames, continuing its stunning and inexplicable season-long search for consistency.
"It's getting frustrating, the lack of consistency," captain Steven Stamkos said. "It's getting tiresome saying the same stuff over and over and over. It starts with me."
With a win Tuesday, the Lightning could have put itself in a tie for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Lately, we feel like we're playing well," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's two steps forward and one step back. We need to go on a run."
After talking extensively pre-game about getting off to a strong start, Tampa Bay (19-7-4) came out "flat," Cooper said. The Flames willed their way to a 2-0 lead, taking advantage of some defensive lapses by Tampa Bay's line of J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette and Callahan, the team's shutdown unit in last season's Stanley Cup final.
"They were executing and we weren't skating," Stamkos said. "And it showed in the first half of the game."
And, again, the Lightning offense let goaltender Ben Bishop down, as it was held to one goal or fewer for the 13th time in 40 games.
The Flames, who won their 12th straight game at the Saddledome, took an early lead four minutes in when Matt Stajan scored off a rush, slipping a puck past Bishop on the left post. A bad backcheck by Paquette, slow to get back, sparked that odd-man opportunity.
The Lightning was fortunate to get to the first intermission down only a goal, with the Flames putting together several scoring chances.
The Lightning's Triplets line, which buzzed so much in their reunion in Saturday's win over Minnesota, was pretty quiet thanks to Calgary's top defensive pairing with Mark Giordano, who had two assists. Flames goalie Karri Ramo (30 saves) was good, but he wasn't tested nearly enough.
And the Flames took a two-goal lead late in the second on a goal by David Jones, who was left all alone in front of the net, deflecting a pass by Giordano. Brown and Paquette both seemed to lose track of Jones.
The Lightning got better late in the game, with a stronger third period, pulling to within 2-1 on Stamkos' goal with under two minutes to go.
But it was too little, too late, something it has said often this season. Tampa Bay continues to have to battle its way back into a playoff spot.
"It's about 60 minutes, and I've been talking about 60-minute games the whole year," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "Some games it's there, most games it's not and that's not going to cut it. Teams are too good and we are not that good of a team than can just play for 40 and just roll with it. Obviously the record shows that.''
The Lightning is carrying 13 forwards, so depending on Callahan's injury, it'll have scratched Erik Condra available.
Cooper said Callahan tried to "game it out" and said he didn't know if Callahan would be available for Friday's game at Edmonton.
First—1, Calgary, Stajan 4 (Giordano, Brodie), 3:56. Penalties—None.
Second—2, Calgary, Jones 8 (Giordano), 15:30. Penalties—None.
Third—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 17 (Stralman, Filppula), 18:21. 4, Calgary, Bouma 1 (Wideman, Russell), 19:02 (en). Penalties—Paquette, TB (tripping), 1:14. Shots—Tampa Bay 8-14-9—31. Calgary 13-7-4—24. Power plays—Tampa Bay 0 of 0; Calgary 0 of 1. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 15-13-3 (23 shots-21 saves). Calgary, Ramo 15-12-1 (31-30). A—18,966 (19,289). T—2:21. Referees—Kelly Sutherland, Wes McCauley. Linesmen—Mike Cvik, Brian Murphy.