TAMPA — When the Lightning boards its plane this morning to begin a weeklong trip to western Canada, players will be wearing their jerseys from college and juniors.
The trip down memory lane was coach Jon Cooper's idea, with the goal of bonding and recognizing where they came from.
But after a sloppy 4-3 loss to the Rangers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Sunday night — Tampa Bay's second straight defeat — the Lightning would also benefit from reverting back to the not-too-distant past, when it was playing all-around sound hockey in a five-game winning streak it took into the holiday break.
"It just seems like, with the break, we've lost a little bit of our identity for a 60-minute period," captain Marty St. Louis said. "We played one good period (Sunday), and that's not enough in this league. … We got what we deserved."
The Lightning (23-12-4) had poor puck management for the first two periods, falling behind 4-2 behind three Rangers power-play goals. Tampa Bay attempted a furious third-period comeback, outshooting New York 16-6, but it was too little, too late.
Cooper said his team worked hard but not smart.
"That was painful to watch," he said. "I don't think I've seen us mismanage pucks more in 39 games than I did (Sunday). That was extremely disappointing. Ultimately, it cost us the game."
Goalie Anders Lindback, making his first start in 10 days, was solid with 25 saves, but wasn't given much help in front of him. Five minutes into the game, a bad turnover in the Lightning zone by defenseman Radko Gudas led to a goal by wing Rick Nash.
After the Lightning took the lead at 2-1 on goals by Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, the Rangers tied it on a power-play goal by Mats Zuccarello, who banked in a cross-crease pass off Gudas' skate.
"Bad bounces happen," Gudas said. "But I've got to be better."
Cooper said though Gudas and Victor Hedman, both on the ice for three of the Rangers' goals, have had "better nights," everyone played a role in the loss.
"You lay a rotten egg, and if you're going to do that, you just hope that your whole team does it," Cooper said. "And that's kind of what we did."
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]
First—1, NYR, Nash 7 (Stepan), 4:30. 2, TB, T.Johnson 10 (Purcell, Filppula), 10:41 (pp). 3, TB, Palat 6 (Gudas, Cote), 16:05. 4, NYR, Zuccarello 9 (Brassard, McDonagh), 18:25 (pp). Penalties—Miller, NYR (hooking), 9:11; Filppula, TB (face-off violation), 18:17.
Second—5, NYR, Kreider 10 (Zuccarello, McDonagh), 4:35 (pp). 6, NYR, Pouliot 7 (Brassard, Zuccarello), 7:51 (pp). Penalties—Korobov, TB (holding), 3:18; Cote, TB (high-sticking), 6:42; Girardi, NYR (interference), 11:11.
Third—7, TB, Filppula 14 (Purcell, Korobov), 8:14. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—NYR 14-9-6—29. TB 12-12-16—40. PP opportunities—NYR 3 of 3; TB 1 of 2. Goalies—NYR, Lundqvist 11-15-2 (40 shots-37 saves). TB, Lindback 3-7-1 (29-25). A—19,204 (19,204).