TAMPA — In regards to the Lightning's 7-2 loss to the Flyers Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum, coach Rick Tocchet said his players deserved better.
"I thought the guys really worked hard," he said.
And wing Marty St. Louis said, "I don't think the score indicated how the game went."
You know what? It doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter how good a team played for two periods when it allowed five third-period goals that broke a 2-2 tie.
It doesn't matter it had more scoring chances or shots because Tampa Bay (26-25-11) lost its fourth straight and fell from ninth to 11th in the East, two points out of the playoffs.
"It is not going well," center Steven Stamkos said. "We have to find a way before it's too late."
Stamkos did his part. His two goals gave him a team-best 37, and his 14-game points streak is a team record.
The problem is that his line, which also includes St. Louis and Steve Downie, has 26 of the team's past 34 goals. The power play was 0-for-7 despite moving Vinny Lecavalier onto the first unit in a down-low position, and the captain has zero points in his past six games.
But the real culprit against Philadelphia was the defense. The Flyers, who swept the four-game season series 22-7, scored three power-play goals in the third as the Lightning took five minor penalties.
Defenseman Mattias Ohlund looked bad on Simon Gagne's winner 17 seconds into the period, when he let center Mike Richards skip by him before Richards fed his teammate.
Goaltender Antero Niittymaki, who had the first chance to be the go-to guy in the playoff chase but was pulled after allowing six goals on 31 shots, let Gagne's shot through his legs to make it 4-2 at 4:34. And defenseman Victor Hedman was pick-pocketed in the defensive zone before James van Riemsdyk scored to make it 5-2 at 9:27.
Not exactly the execution or discipline expected given the playoff-push rhetoric during the Olympic break.
"We didn't even give our selves a chance to play well in the third," St. Louis said. "We were in the box the whole time."
"We just can't afford a game like that," Stamkos said. "A 7-2 game is tough to swallow especially because that's a team in front of us we can catch."
Instead, Tampa Bay, which has allowed 22 goals in four straight losses, has to play catch-up.
"We have to pick ourselves up," Tocchet said. "It wasn't a team thing tonight. It was a couple of mistakes by some individuals. For the most part the team worked hard."
It didn't matter.
First Period—1, Philadelphia, Richards 25 (Carcillo, Pronger), 10:34. 2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 36 (St. Louis, Ohlund), 14:38. Penalties—Gagne, Phi (hooking), 12:27; Ohlund, TB (roughing), 16:32; Stamkos, TB (roughing), 19:16.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 37 (Downie, Malone), 2:26. 4, Philadelphia, Carcillo 9 (Richards), 4:58. Penalties—Coburn, Phi (holding), 5:32; van Riemsdyk, Phi (holding), 9:26; Halpern, TB (hooking), 13:32; Hartnell, Phi (goaltender interference), 13:47; van Riemsdyk, Phi (slashing), 17:10; Hedman, TB (hooking), 19:11.
Third Period—5, Philadelphia, Gagne 8 (Richards, Timonen), :17 (pp). 6, Philadelphia, Gagne 9 (Richards, Giroux), 4:34 (pp). 7, Philadelphia, van Riemsdyk 14 (Giroux, Asham), 9:27. 8, Philadelphia, Giroux 13 (Gagne), 11:31 (pp). 9, Philadelphia, Carter 28, 14:27 (sh). Penalties—Smaby, TB (holding), :46; Malone, TB (charging), 3:03; Lecavalier, TB (goaltender interference), 6:16; Carcillo, Phi, major (fighting), 10:02; Downie, TB, served by Tanguay, minor-major (slashing, fighting), 10:02; Asham, Phi, minor-major (holding, fighting), 12:58; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 12:58; Ohlund, TB (slashing), 14:40; Hartnell, Phi (slashing), 19:38. Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 8-14-12—34. Tampa Bay 13-9-16—38. Power-play opportunities—Philadelphia 3 of 9; Tampa Bay 0 of 7. Goalies—Philadelphia, Leighton 14-7-1 (38 shots-36 saves). Tampa Bay, Niittymaki 16-11-5 (31-25), Smith (11:31 third, 3-2). A—17,812 (19,758). T—2:33. Referees—Eric Furlatt, Kyle Rehman. Linesmen—Andy McElman, Anthony Sericolo.