BOSTON — Coach Rick Tocchet kept returning to the same theme Wednesday night.
Even as the talk about a 4-1 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden wandered to goaltending errors and defensive gaffes, Tocchet would not be redirected.
"The bottom line is you've got to score goals," he said. "Sooner or later you've got to get the job done, and that's it."
Goals, or the lack of them, have been a worry all season. But with just one in the past 126 minutes and 19 seconds, things are coming to a head. It was little consolation that Tampa Bay outshot Boston 40-39.
"You have to follow that," Tocchet said. "You have to finish."
Instead, the Lightning (10-8-8) is winless in three straight, including an overtime loss. Its power play is on a 0-for-13 streak, and Jeff Halpern has the team's last two goals, including a third-period tally against the Bruins.
"It's pretty frustrating," center Steven Stamkos said. "I don't know what you can do. You just have to keep throwing pucks at the net, and eventually they'll start to go in.
"We have to find a way to bear down here. We can't let this slide out too long."
Boston, on a 6-0-1 streak, knows how to finish.
Marco Sturm had two goals and got help from former Lightning wing Marc Recchi, who had three assists.
The Lightning helped, too. Rookie defenseman Victor Hedman not being able to handle Sturm at the blue line led to one goal. Recchi outdueling defenseman Andrej Meszaros for the puck in the Tampa Bay zone led to another.
Patrice Bergeron scored after outpositioning Stamkos in front of the net, and goalie Mike Smith's failure to squeeze a puck led to a Sturm goal off a scramble.
"When you don't score goals," Tocchet said, "those are the things that really bite you."
So does complacency, left wing Ryan Malone said.
"We were kind of kidding ourselves with some of the effort we put out recently," he said.
"We have to look in the mirror and pick it up a level. Sometimes you get a little success, you get a little comfortable."
None of the Lightning's top scorers should feel that way.
Stamkos has a team-best 17 goals, but he was minus-3 against Boston, and his offensive-zone passing has been sketchy. Malone has 15 goals but just one assist in four games.
Vinny Lecavalier, Alex Tanguay and Marty St. Louis, also minus-3 Wednesday, have zero goals and one assist combined in their past three games.
"Just keep shooting the puck," Lecavalier said. "Eventually it's going to go in."
Sounds like a theme.
First Period—1, Boston, Savard 5 (Morris, Chara), 8:05 (pp). 2, Boston, Bergeron 8 (Chara, Recchi), 14:03. Penalties—Thornton, Bos (tripping), 5:14; Lecavalier, TB (tripping), 7:24; Recchi, Bos (high-sticking), 18:32.
Second Period—3, Boston, Sturm 7 (Recchi, Bergeron), 13:36. 4, Boston, Sturm 8 (Bergeron, Recchi), 16:09. Penalties—Walker, TB (holding), 3:43; Sobotka, Bos (delay of game), 10:04; Begin, Bos (high-sticking), 18:50.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Halpern 4 (Downie, Malone), 1:27. Penalties—Hedman, TB (hooking), 11:25; Boston bench, served by Thornton (too many men), 16:20; Begin, Bos (interference), 19:31. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 16-11-13—40. Boston 13-9-17—39. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 6; Boston 1 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 4-5-5 (39 shots-35 saves). Boston, Thomas 7-6-3 (40-39). A—16,553 (17,565). T—2:24. Referees—Wes McCauley, Brad Watson. Linesmen—Brad Kovachik, Steve Miller.