TAMPA — What is the next step for the Lightning?
There have been players-only meetings, changes of routines, tough practices and days off.
Nothing seems to be helping as the team disintegrated Tuesday night 7-1 to the Maple Leafs at the St. Pete Times Forum, the team's fourth loss in five games.
"There's always something you can do," coach Guy Boucher said. "I'm certainly not one to get discouraged. … There are solutions, but right now it's not about pointing fingers."
So, let's do it for him.
Tampa Bay (9-9-2) was done in by bad goaltending and bad defense, and that had to be frustrating for a team that played one of its best first periods of the season, outshot Toronto 13-8 and still was behind 3-1.
Yes, there were issues with a lack of push from the forwards in the second and third periods in which the Lightning was outshot 18-15. It also should be noted Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis each were minus-4.
But when the defense continually makes plays that lead to goals and goaltender Dwayne Roloson is pulled after allowing six goals on 21 shots, that is the bigger concern.
"It's frustrating, but you can only look at yourself," defenseman Eric Brewer said. "If you're frustrated with the overall picture and being part of it, you have to look at yourself and are you doing enough? You lose a game like this at home, clearly we're not."
The undoing began with Toronto's two power-play goals in 87 seconds of the first period after Lecavalier's power-play goal tied the score 1-1.
Defenseman Victor Hedman was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty which led to Tim Connolly's tip-in goal with 2:04 left. And when defenseman Pavel Kubina joined Hedman because of an interference penalty Boucher called "stupid," Tyler Bozak scored five-on-three with 37.1 seconds left.
Defensive miscues by Hedman and defensemen Brett Clarke, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Matt Gilroy also led to goals, and Roloson needed to stop Clarke MacArthur's deflection from the slot 41 seconds into the first.
Then there was this:
In a three-on-three situation in the third, Roloson tried to sweep a puck around the net but gave it directly to Bozak, who scored to make it 5-1. Joffrey Lupul's short-side goal that made it 6-1 should not have gone in, either.
"It's like a leaking ceiling," Boucher said. "You patch one hole and then you start worrying about the other hole that's leaking, and you look at the first one that's leaking again. That's what we got."
And who knows what's next?
First Period—1, Toronto, MacArthur 7 (Gardiner, T.Connolly), :41. 2, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 9 (Stamkos, Malone), 8:38 (pp). 3, Toronto, T.Connolly 3 (Kulemin, Franson), 17:56 (pp). 4, Toronto, Bozak 3 (Kessel, T.Connolly), 19:22 (pp). Penalties—Dupuis, Tor (hooking), 3:27; Gardiner, Tor (hooking), 7:42; Hedman, TB, double minor (high-sticking), 16:20; Kubina, TB (interference), 18:44.
Second Period—5, Toronto, Colborne 1 (Frattin, Liles), 17:45. Penalties—Rosehill, Tor (holding stick), 4:26.
Third Period—6, Toronto, Bozak 4, 3:07. 7, Toronto, Lupul 11 (Bozak, Phaneuf), 4:28. 8, Toronto, Crabb 3 (Frattin, Gardiner), 14:28. Penalties—Franson, Tor (hooking), 1:13; Purcell, TB (diving), 1:13; Shannon, TB (tripping), 2:29; T.Connolly, Tor (interference), 2:52; Gardiner, Tor (holding), 11:17; Gardiner, Tor, double minor (roughing), 18:11; Stamkos, TB, double minor (roughing), 18:11. Shots on Goal—Toronto 8-10-8—26. Tampa Bay 13-6-9—28. Power-play opportunities—Toronto 2 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 6. Goalies—Toronto, Gustavsson 6-4-0 (28 shots-27 saves). Tampa Bay, Roloson 6-6-1 (21-15), Garon (4:28 third, 5-4). A—19,204 (19,204). T—2:24.