WINNIPEG — The Lightning hit a bit of critical mass Monday, and it turned into a 30-minute players-only meeting after a 5-2 loss to the Jets at the MTS Centre.
Players declined to go into specifics about what was discussed but mentioned how frustrating it was that another slow start on the road pushed Tampa Bay (8-7-2) to its second straight loss.
"At certain moments of the year you've got to get together as a team and talk it out," left wing Marty St. Louis said. "I don't think we need to say what was talked about, but we're all in this together. We're the ones who go on the ice and play. At certain times of the season you got to talk it out."
"We've just got to find a way to play better on the road," center Steven Stamkos said, "and play better to start the game."
With Winnipeg's 2-0 first-period lead, the Lightning, 3-6-2 on the road, has been outscored 19-8 in first periods on the road and outshot 150-102.
The team did show up to play, something it did not do in Saturday's dismal 3-0 loss to the Blues. But it again sabotaged itself.
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, while victimized by two goals that deflected in off his teammates, was not sharp and was pulled in favor of Matheiu Garon with 7:46 left in the second period after allowing four goals on 22 shots.
It didn't help Tampa Bay could not cash in on its prime chances.
Steve Downie missed at least two open nets. St. Louis has to be kicking himself, too, after he could not lift the puck with his backhand over the glove of sprawled goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 3:02 left in the first period and Winnipeg up 2-0.
Tampa Bay also failed early in the second, with only two shots, on a four-minute power play that maintained Winnipeg's 2-0 lead, though Pavelec made a stunning left-leg save on Vinny Lecavalier's snap shot from the slot.
A 2-minute, 43-second power play, with 1:17 of five-on-three, also failed in the second period.
Still, Boucher said he saw "building blocks."
"We showed up," he said. "The last game was shameful. We didn't show up. Tonight we competed."
And got goals by St. Louis and Stamkos.
It also got some locker room leadership as the team talked out their difficulties.
"Everyone was involved," defenseman Eric Brewer said.
"It's a good sign," Boucher said. "The players now, they're fed up with their mental mistakes and they want things to change. And that's good."
Even if the game wasn't.
First Period—1, Winnipeg, Kane 6 (Byfuglien, Burmistrov), 4:51. 2, Winnipeg, Byfuglien 3 (Kane), 13:02. Penalties—Kane, Wpg (high-sticking), 9:22; Stuart, Wpg (slashing), 17:21.
Second Period—3, Winnipeg, Flood 3 (Stapleton, Little), 7:49 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 4 (Stamkos, Lecavalier), 10:47. 5, Winnipeg, Ladd 5 (Oduya, Wellwood), 12:14. Penalties—Bogosian, Wpg (holding, unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:51; Downie, TB (hooking), 6:40; Oduya, Wpg (hooking), 16:48; Burmistrov, Wpg (high-sticking), 17:31.
Third Period—6, Winnipeg, Stapleton 2 (Glass), 10:04. 7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 11 (Gilroy), 10:26. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (interference, slashing), 19:15; Slater, Wpg (slashing), 19:15. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 11-16-5—32. Winnipeg 16-9-14—39. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 6; Winnipeg 1 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 5-4-1 (22 shots-18 saves), Garon (12:14 second, 17-16). Winnipeg, Pavelec 5-7-3 (32-30). A—15,004 (15,015). T—2:29. Referees—Brad Meier, Ian Walsh. Linesmen—Thor Nelson, Mark Wheler.