DENVER — Lightning defenseman Matt Carle thought he had time to make a play. But what started out with the best of intentions ended with utter disappointment.
Carle's turnover in the defensive zone was one thing. That the play turned into the winning goal in a 6-3 loss to the Avalanche on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center made it so much worse.
There also was this: Erik Johnson's sharp-angle shot that broke the 3-3 tie with 3:55 left in the third period deflected past goaltender Ben Bishop off Carle's leg.
"It's hard to comment on that winning goal," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It's inexcusable what happened."
What happened was the Lightning (34-22-5) lost for the sixth time in nine games and allowed four goals in the third period as it lost a 3-2 lead built on two second-period goals from Nate Thompson.
Two Colorado goals were empty-netters, but the bottom line was the same.
"You've got a tie game with under five minutes to go," Cooper said. "I thought we're getting points out of this one. We let them slip out of our hands."
The outcome negated a pretty good effort in the second of back-to-back games against another fast, skilled opponent. Tampa Bay, unlike in its past two games, was able to sustain pressure in the offensive zone and was outshot only 35-34.
But there was sloppiness, too.
Colorado's Tyson Barrie scored after he zipped past flat-footed Tom Pyatt, who just 30 seconds prior in the first period had given Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. Ryan O'Reilly scored after a bad defensive zone turnover by Sami Salo.
And Nick Holden's power-play goal that tied the score 3-3 5:12 into the third came on the first of three penalties on Tampa Bay in the first 10 minutes of the period.
The Lightning also failed on a late third-period power play. But Carle's gaffe was the back-breaker.
Carle said he tried to get the puck cross-ice to Ryan Malone. But Colorado's Johnson picked it off near the blue line and shot from the right-wing boards at the side of the faceoff circle.
"I thought I had time to make a play, and I thought (Malone) was kind of looking at me," Carle said. "I decided to throw it there, and the D man picked it off."
Carle went to the front of the net to try to block the shot. He said the puck deflected in off his inner calf.
"I know if I'm going to stand there and take away (Bishop's) eyes and the puck comes to the net, I have to block it," Carle said. "To see it go in from that angle, and especially with how hard we battled, it's pretty tough that late in the game."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 2 (Purcell, Salo), 16:49. 2, Colorado, Barrie 8 (Stastny, MacKinnon), 17:19. 3, Colorado, O'Reilly 23 (Parenteau, Duchene), 19:01. Penalties—None.
Second Period—4, Tampa Bay, Thompson 7 (Kostka, Carle), 6:40. 5, Tampa Bay, Thompson 8 (Kostka), 17:37. Penalties—Duchene, Col (hooking), 13:47; Namestnikov, TB (goaltender interference), 18:32.
Third Period—6, Colorado, Holden 5 (O'Reilly, Duchene), 5:12 (pp). 7, Colorado, E.Johnson 8, 16:05. 8, Colorado, Holden 6 (Talbot), 19:06 (en). 9, Colorado, Stastny 19 (MacKinnon, Landeskog), 19:53 (en). Penalties—Salo, TB (hooking), 3:31; Hedman, TB (hooking), 7:29; Killorn, TB (delay of game), 9:55; Hejda, Col (tripping), 16:54. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 13-10-11—34. Colorado 9-13-13—35. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Colorado 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 29-10-4 (33 shots-29 saves). Colorado, Varlamov 30-11-5 (34-31). A—15,592 (18,007). T—2:23. Referees—Ghislain Hebert, Brad Meier. Linesmen—Brian Mach, Andy McElman.