TAMPA — The boos began in small doses Saturday night as the third period wound down.
It wasn't until the horn sounded at the St. Pete Times Forum to signify the Lightning's 3-0 loss to the Sharks that they reach a crescendo.
The team deserved it.
"It was just an embarrassing effort by our team tonight," coach Barry Melrose said, "very embarrassing."
On so many levels, but let's start with the housekeeping.
Tampa Bay was outshot 45-22, including 16-6 in the third period. It continued its parade to the penalty box with seven minors, three by defenseman Paul Ranger, who has six in his past two games.
The Lightning won just 18 of 46 faceoffs (captain Vinny Lecavalier dropped eight of 12) and failed to challenge San Jose backup goaltender Brian Boucher, who in his second start of the season earned his second shutout.
If not for more stellar work by goalie Mike Smith, who made 42 saves, the final score would also have been embarrassing.
More troubling, though, was how Tampa Bay (1-3-3) competed, or didn't. It lost puck battles, couldn't consistently gain puck possession and subsequently spent too much time in its own end.
No wonder the team was shut out for the second time in three games and has a league-worst 11 goals.
"It just seems we're always second on the puck," said Lecavalier, who had just one shot on goal. "It seems we're a step behind. It seems that they were faster than us. We looked slower than the other team."
And though some such as Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi and even Steven Stamkos were physical at times, few others joined in. Not even the addition of 6-foot-6, 235-pound defenseman Marek Malik made a difference.
"So far, guys just haven't been willing to do it," Melrose said of playing a physical game. "This is the team I got, and I have to get them to play that way, and so far I haven't been able to do that."
It was a bad time for such an effort.
San Jose, 7-2 and leading the Pacific, is a big, strong, disciplined team and was coming off a disappointing loss to the Panthers.
Marcel Goc and Ryane Clowe scored in the second period; Clowe's goal snapped Tampa Bay's streak of 16 consecutive penalty kills. And Devin Setoguchi scored in the third to cap a contest that stopped the Lightning's streaks of six straight one-goal games and four straight in overtime.
Defenseman Dan Boyle, who, along with teammate Brad Lukowich made his first trip to Tampa since a July 4 trade to San Jose, had an assist.
"It was a huge win and a little extra special for me and Luke," Boyle said. "I'm just really proud of the way our team played. You talk about a team effort; that's pretty much what that was out there. Everybody played well."
As for the Lightning, "We've got to change something up," Stamkos said. "The offense has got to come, and our top guys have to keep pushing, and hopefully, we'll start getting some bounces."
"What's the definition of insanity?" Melrose said. "You do the same thing over and over again and think you're going to get a different result. We've got to come at it from a different direction.
"We've got to get our star players to score. We've got to get everybody to compete harder. We've got a lot of work to do."
If they don't want to hear the boos.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.
First Period—None. Penalties—Clowe, SJ, major (fighting), 11:40; Malone, TB, major (fighting), 11:40.
Second Period—1, San Jose, Goc 1 (Boyle, Grier), 7:57. 2, San Jose, Clowe 3 (Ehrhoff, Pavelski), 18:00 (pp). Penalties—Ranger, TB (hooking), :48; Vlasic, SJ (tripping), 12:59; Ranger, TB (slashing), 13:51; Malik, TB (interference), 16:09; Ehrhoff, SJ (holding), 18:34.
Third Period—3, San Jose, Setoguchi 5 (Thornton, Blake), 16:28. Penalties—Ranger, TB (holding), 3:42; Ward, TB (holding stick), 13:55; Gratton, TB (hooking), 19:49. Shots on Goal—San Jose 16-13-16—45. Tampa Bay 9-7-6—22. Power-play opportunities—San Jose 1 of 6; Tampa Bay 0 of 2. Goalies—San Jose, Boucher 2-0-0 (22 shots-22 saves). Tampa Bay, M.Smith 1-2-2 (45-42). A—16,831 (19,758).