ST. LOUIS — Not long ago, the Lightning was second in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of the ninth-place team, a nice cushion considering the top eight make the playoffs.
After Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Blues at the Scottrade Center, that gap has been cut to five.
"I'm not big into the standings watching," coach Jon Cooper said before the game. "It takes the focus off the task at hand."
The task for the Lightning (34-23-5), which has lost seven of its past 10, is 9-10-1 since Jan. 5 and has dropped to fourth in the East, is to learn to play with a lead. In each loss during a 1-3-0 road trip, Tampa Bay scored first.
In a 3-2 loss to the Predators on Feb. 27 it was up by two in the first period. In Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Avalanche, the Lightning led 1-0 in the first period and 3-2 entering the third.
And against the Blues, Tampa Bay was up 2-0 in the first period on goals from Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson.
But two Blues goals in the second period — one shorthanded — tied the score, and left wing Alexander Steen's backhander from the slot 3:47 into the third was the winner.
"We probably should have won three of the four games," said Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis. "We have to fix this fast."
Perhaps a closing stretch of 14 of 20 games at home will help as will the return of injured star Steven Stamkos. But so will getting more shots. The Lightning scored its two goals against St. Louis on its first six shots but took just 11 the rest of the game at goalie Ryan Miller and was outshot 27-17.
Tampa Bay had just 16 shots against Nashville and 21 in its only win of the trip, 4-2 at Dallas. But as defenseman Victor Hedman said, that win came only because "(Bishop) stood on his head."
"Unacceptable," Cooper said. "A little bit of our structure has gone by the wayside. We just have to get back to Hockey 101."
Killorn opened the scoring Tuesday 7:08 into the first period off a feed from Teddy Purcell. It was 2-0 with 5:11 left on Johnson's power-play goal from the front of the net.
Patrik Berglund cut the deficit to 2-1 3:32 into the second when Bishop allowed a juicy rebound and no Lightning player was there to clear it.
St. Louis, who was minus-4, missed an open net during a power play.
That hurt even more when T.J. Oshie tied the score with 2:56 left in the second with a shorthanded goal in which he stick-handled past Hedman and turned St. Louis around in front of the net before backhanding the shot through Bishop.
"We just got to focus on ourselves," Bishop said. "If we start thinking about other teams it's just going to take away from us. Just get home and regroup."
First—1, Tampa Bay, Killorn 15 (Purcell), 7:08. 2, Tampa Bay, Johnson 18 (St. Louis, Hedman), 14:49 (pp). Penalties—Brewer, TB (tripping), 8:22; Morrow, StL (high-sticking), 14:21.
Second—3, St. Louis, Berglund 11 (Schwartz, Tarasenko), 3:32. 4, St. Louis, Oshie 15 (Steen, Pietrangelo), 17:04 (sh). Penalties—Schwartz, StL (holding), 9:17; Backes, StL (slashing), 16:03.
Third—5, St. Louis, Steen 29 (Backes, Oshie), 3:47. 6, St. Louis, Tarasenko 19 (Backes, Schwartz), 19:21 (en). Penalties—Steen, StL (goaltender interference), 7:08; Carle, TB (high-sticking), 12:24. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 6-6-5—17. St. Louis 12-10-7—29. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 4; St. Louis 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Bishop 29-11-4 (28 shots-25 saves). St. Louis, Miller 17-22-3 (17-15). A—18,602 (19,150). T—2:23. Referees—Dennis LaRue, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen—Brian Mach, Jonny Murray.