RALEIGH, N.C. — Coach Guy Boucher remains baffled about why the Lightning has lacked the necessary urgency in losses to teams at the bottom of the standings.
But Boucher made clear in a team meeting Saturday morning the harsh reality that could await it if it doesn't change.
"I don't care if we win against the top teams. If we lose against the teams that don't make the playoffs, we're not going to make the playoffs," Boucher said. "There's 24 points that are coming up that are against teams that right now are probably not going to make the playoffs. If we lose these games, that's 24 points. We don't make the playoffs.
"I think I might have shocked them a little bit (Saturday), because that's the reality. Right now it's going well for the team in general. The reality is, it can turn around in two seconds if we don't show up."
Boucher pointed out that the Southeast Division-leading Lightning has little margin for error, and that has been shown in its 1-4-4 performance against the Devils, Islanders, Oilers, Flames and Panthers, all near or at the bottom of the league.
"We realize that we're not a powerhouse at all, by any means," Boucher said. "When you look at (Philadelphia's) lineup, that's a powerhouse. We're an extremely hard-working team that's gotten everything we've gotten from our work ethic and because we want it more than the opponents. So any day that we don't want it as much as the opponent, we're going to lose."
Boucher said the responsibility falls on every player. "We know we can do it," RW Steve Downie said. "We've proved we can do it. We've just go to do it consistently. When we play a lower-standing team, we can't take it lightly. We've got to be ready to go right from the start. We can't take a period to get into it, two periods to get into it, or we're not going to win the game."
'Wrong guy': Frustration boiled for star C Steven Stamkos in the final two minutes of Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Hurricanes. He was handed a 10-minute misconduct after arguing a holding penalty called on him.
"I don't know if the ref had a phantom call or got the wrong guy, but I know 100 percent I did not hold or touch anyone," Stamkos said. "I skated my (behind) off to get back and put my stick out, extended it, got the stick on the puck and get a penalty for holding. Either he made up a call or got the wrong guy. Obviously I was frustrated because I didn't do anything wrong."
Switch it up: Boucher switched up his lines, putting Downie, Stamkos and Simon Gagne together, as well as Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Malone. The combos worked pretty well, with Gagne picking up two goals and Stamkos scoring for the second straight game.
MEDICAL MATTERS: D Mike Lundin and C Nate Thompson were expected to be game-time decisions Saturday. They were a little banged up after blocking shots in Friday's loss to the Devils, but both played. Lundin started.
Odds and ends: RW Teddy Purcell and D Matt Smaby were healthy scratches.