TAMPA — Lightning players cleared up a few things in a meeting before Saturday's practice.
They acknowledged how miserable it is to be out of the playoffs with about a quarter of the season left. But they also resolved not to let the final 23 games be in vain.
"We have the logo on the jersey. We got the name on the back," wing Vinny Prospal said. "We're all professionals. We have to show up for us, for our fans and whoever is in this locker room right now."
Tampa Bay did just that Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the East-leading Bruins at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Prospal's 15th goal, on the power play with 1:33 left in the third period, snapped a 3-3 tie, and Tampa Bay (20-28-12) ended a four-game losing streak.
"That's a good hockey club over there," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "To win, it's nice for the boys."
It was an interesting game.
Tampa Bay got goals in 15 seconds of the first period by Jeff Halpern and Adam Hall to take a 2-1 lead. And 42-year-old Gary Roberts won a first-period fight with 24-year-old Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart.
Mark Recchi's third-period goal gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead and Halpern also assisted on Prospal's winner.
There dark side? The Lightning allowed at least 40 shots for the fourth straight game, and Boston's 43-18 advantage included a 15-4 edge in the third period.
But goaltender Karri Ramo overcame two soft first-period goals and made 40 saves, and the Lightning answered Friday's 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes, which firmly reinforced that Tampa Bay's season will end April 11 and prompted the next day's meeting.
"To say the bubble burst on us is an understatement," Halpern said. "But the meeting was, 'What do we do from here?' How do you enjoy the 20 games and make it entertaining for the fans and create some pride in this organization?"
"We decided it's no fun if anyone quits," Ramo said. "Everyone just has to play for each other."
It's a theme Tocchet has preached the past few games. It wasn't so much the shots allowed that bugged him — the defense is banged up — it was the inattention to details such as back-checking and making sure passes are crisp.
"I don't care how far you're out of it or how far you're in it, you don't play for nothing," he said. "You have to grasp onto something. The attitude can't be you pack it in. If you do that, you're defeated. We're going to try not to let that happen."
"They competed really hard tonight," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
They had a meeting.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Period—1, Boston, Kessel 25 (Savard, Lucic), 1:38. 2, Tampa Bay, Halpern 4 (Pettinger, Eminger), 4:44. 3, Tampa Bay, Hall 4 (Craig, Artyukhin), 4:59. 4, Boston, Ference 1 (Savard, Wideman), 16:42 (pp). Penalties—Thornton, Bos, major (fighting), 9:28; Koci, TB, major (fighting), 9:28; Ference, Bos (tripping), 13:59; Halpern, TB (goaltender interference), 15:04; Stuart, Bos, major (fighting), 17:07; Roberts, TB, major (fighting), 17:07; Thornton, Bos (unsportsmanlike conduct, cross-checking), 18:05.
Second Period—5, Tampa Bay, Recchi 13 (Melichar, Koci), 10:00. 6, Boston, Chara 14 (Kobasew, A.Ward), 15:17. Penalties—Malik, TB (interference), 3:52; Artyukhin, TB (tripping), 11:36.
Third Period—7, Tampa Bay, Prospal 15 (Halpern, St. Louis), 18:27 (pp). Penalties—Yelle, Bos (high-sticking), 2:39; Malone, TB (hooking), 2:44; Artyukhin, TB (boarding), 5:37; Krejci, Bos (interference), 15:15; Ference, Bos (delay of game), 17:10. Shots on Goal—Boston 14-14-15—43. Tampa Bay 9-5-4—18. Power-play opportunities—Boston 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 6. Goalies—Boston, Fernandez 14-4-3 (18 shots-14 saves). Tampa Bay, Ramo 2-3-1 (43-40). A—18,454 (19,758).