TAMPA — What is the one thing the Lightning did not want to do during Thursday night's game with the Red Wings?
But Tampa Bay, in the final minute of the second period, went "brain-dead," according to coach Barry Melrose, and took three minor penalties in 18 seconds to give the league's No. 1 power play four minutes with the extra man, including two minutes of five-on-three.
You can guess the rest; two power-play goals in 2 minutes, 30 seconds of a three-goal third period in a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"We take three terrible penalties," Melrose said. "You can't give the best team in the world a two-minute five-on-three and another two minutes of five-on-four. That's winning and losing."
"It's frustrating," said defenseman Paul Ranger, who with center Chris Gratton and right wing Adam Hall went to the penalty box. "We can't afford to do that.
"It's our responsibility as players to play according to the rules."
It was the third straight loss for Tampa Bay (5-7-4), which fell into many of its old, bad habits, mustering a season-low 18 shots, giving up 39 and being outshot 18-3 in the second period.
Even so, the Lightning had a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Mark Recchi and Jussi Jokinen and still led 2-1 late in the second.
But Ranger was called for cross-checking with 25 seconds remaining in the second period. Eighteen seconds later, Gratton was called for slashing and Hall for elbowing during the same scrum in front of Lightning goaltender Olie Kolzig.
Asked if he thought the calls by referees Don Koharski and Dean Morton were legitimate, Ranger said, "It's in the moment, battling."
Perhaps, Melrose said, "But the end result is we shot ourselves in the foot. We can't have those letdowns. We can't have those bad decisions that cost us a chance to beat the Detroit Red Wings."
Henrik Zetterberg's five-on-three goal 1:38 into the third period tied the score after teammates Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen dug the puck free as Kolzig, with his left skate, tried to pin the puck to the post.
Fifty-two seconds later, Mikael Samuelsson scored five-on-four, and Franzen's even-strength goal at 9:21 made it 4-2.
That turned out to be the winner as Tampa Bay left wing Matt Pettinger, playing for the first time since Oct. 30 as part of a line shakeup, scored his first goal with 4:08 left.
"Even when they got that third goal, I thought we were still able to play well defensively," Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said.
"I thought we played a lot better in our own end the last five minutes or so and (Chris Osgood) came up big, too."
The goalie made 15 saves and improved to 17-0 against the Lightning.
In some ways, Tampa Bay improved, as well. Its first period was solid, and despite the shot disparity, there generally was more jump with Steven Stamkos moving from center to right wing and Vinny Lecavalier off the MVP line.
"But if you give them a full two minutes of five-on-three, they're going to find ways to score," Recchi said of the Red Wings, whose power play works at a 33.9 percent efficiency. "Careless penalties on our part hurt us. It changed the momentum of the game."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Recchi 3 (Krajicek, Vrbata), 14:09. 2, Tampa Bay, Jokinen 6 (Meszaros, Ranger), 18:19 (pp). Penalties—Stuart, Det (hooking), 12:04; Zetterberg, Det (interference), 16:47.
Second Period—3, Detroit, Datsyuk 5 (Lidstrom, Hossa), 1:33. Penalties—Holmstrom, Det (hooking), 4:17; Vrbata, TB (hooking), 12:46; Pettinger, TB (hooking), 16:23; Ranger, TB (cross-checking), 19:35; Gratton, TB (slashing), 19:53; Hall, TB (elbowing), 19:53.
Third Period—4, Detroit, Zetterberg 10 (Franzen, Hossa), 1:38 (pp). 5, Detroit, Samuelsson 3 (Datsyuk, Kronwall), 2:30 (pp). 6, Detroit, Franzen 7 (Zetterberg, Samuelsson), 9:21. 7, Tampa Bay, Pettinger 1 (St. Louis, Prospal), 15:42. Penalties—Hudler, Det (hooking), 10:39. Shots on Goal—Detroit 7-18-14—39. Tampa Bay 6-3-9—18. Power-play opportunities—Detroit 2 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 4. Goalies—Detroit, Osgood 7-1-3 (18 shots-15 saves). Tampa Bay, Kolzig 1-3-1 (39-35). A—20,544 (19,758).