CALGARY — Lightning coach Guy Boucher pegged Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on a sloppy and listless first period.
Center Nate Thompson said the team seemed generally out of synch.
Wing Ryan Malone summed it up best: "It just wasn't very good," he said. "It wasn't very good on our part at all. We were just standing around, not moving our feet, not creating anything, just throwing around pucks."
And, really, toying with what has been a terrific start. Tampa Bay, at 15-10-3, has equaled the 2005-06 team record for most victories after 28 games, and, as Boucher is quick to tell you, it is 7-3-1 in its past 11.
But it also is 2-3-1 in its past six and has been outscored 30-16. In its three regulation losses, goaltenders Dan Ellis and Mike Smith stopped just 62 of 80 shots for a .775 save percentage.
Calgary scored on four of 19 shots. And Ellis for the second straight game allowed a soft goal that gave an opponent a first-period lead as Cory Sarich, a former Lightning, scored his first of the season from the point.
But to explain this game, a bigger picture is needed.
"We were caught in-between in all aspects," Thompson said. "We didn't make plays. One guy was forechecking; the other wasn't."
The result: Tom Kostopoulos' first-period goal that made the score 2-0 and Rene Bourque's second-period tally, both after blown defensive coverages.
Tampa Bay rallied from the 3-0 deficit on second-period goals by rookie Johan Harju, his first in the NHL, and Malone. But it took just 24 shots and was 0-for-2 on the power play, and center Steven Stamkos stayed stuck on 21 goals for his sixth straight game, his longest drought since Dec. 23-Jan. 6 last season.
Tampa Bay also killed its momentum, failing on an early third-period man advantage. And consecutive penalties by Thompson (interference) and Adam Hall (high-sticking) 6:39 and 8:29, respectively, into the period, resulted in Jarome Iginla's goal at 8:42 to re-establish the two-goal margin.
"That killed us," Thompson said.
Asked about all the above, Boucher said, no, it was the lifeless first period that hurt most.
He also reminded that the team is in a grueling stretch of 15 of 21 games on the road and playing since Oct. 21 because of injuries without its top two lines intact. Still, he said of Tuesday's game, "It's unacceptable."
Asked how he will correct it, he said, "I have all night and all day (today) to think about it."
First Period—1, Calgary, Sarich 1 (Pardy, Morrison), 7:21. 2, Calgary, Kostopoulos 2 (Bourque, Giordano), 13:46. Penalties—Clark, TB (tripping), :56.
Second Period—3, Calgary, Bourque 12 (Glencross, Backlund), 4:43. 4, Tampa Bay, Harju 1 (Kubina, R.Jones), 8:35. 5, Tampa Bay, Malone 8 (Thompson, Hedman), 19:00. Penalties—Bouwmeester, Cal (interference), 9:47; Kubina, TB (tripping), 16:18.
Third Period—6, Calgary, Iginla 12 (Bouwmeester, Bourque), 8:42 (pp). Penalties—Regehr, Cal (interference), :49; Thompson, TB (interference), 6:39; Hall, TB (high-sticking), 8:29. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 10-7-7—24. Calgary 7-6-6—19. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Calgary 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Ellis 7-5-3 (19 shots-15 saves). Calgary, Kiprusoff 10-13-1 (24-22). A—19,289 (19,289).