DETROIT — The Lightning better be careful.
That was the message from players after a disheartening 3-0 loss to the Red Wings on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
"We are in the danger zone," right wing Marty St. Louis said.
Said defenseman Mattias Ohlund: "We're running out of time to start winning these games."
It is not as if Tampa Bay (11-14-9) is out of the playoff race. It is two points from the final spot in the East. The frustration comes from the way a 1-8-2 streak has played out.
"It's beyond embarrassing," goaltender Mike Smith said. "We have to stop this. … If we keep making the same mistakes that we've made for it seems like forever, we don't stand a chance.
"We don't have a good enough team to make all these mistakes and win."
The biggest mistake: the inability to score. That came into focus when former Lightning forward Drew Miller scored the winner 8:24 into the first period on a dramatic play in which he created his own breakaway by plucking a puck out of the air with his stick and potting a backhander while leaping over Smith.
"A nice play," Tocchet said. "But those types of plays, when you're scoring, you can withstand."
Instead, the Lightning was shut out for the second time in three games and the fourth time in 10. Only twice in the 11-game slide has it scored more than twice.
Give credit to Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 30 saves for his first career shutout. But Tampa Bay, with a 30-22 shot advantage, couldn't take advantage of prime chances.
It went 0-for-5 on the power play. Steven Stamkos hit a post. And Stephane Veilleux was stoned by Howard from in close with 40 seconds left in the second period and the score 1-0.
It didn't help that St. Louis had zero shots and Vinny Lecavalier one.
"I'm sure guys are trying, but you'd like to bang a couple home," Tocchet said. "It's not one or two guys. We've got to get something from the (defense), get a shot through. We have to get somebody in front. We need someone to have a huge night for us."
The Lightning also could do without plays such as the one that led to Todd Bertuzzi's goal 6:48 into the third period that made it 2-0. Lightning defenseman Lukas Krajicek couldn't clear the defensive zone. Kurtis Foster took himself out of the play by going spread eagle, and Blair Jones was a step behind Bertuzzi's drive to the net.
"We all have to step up," St. Louis said. "Not one man is going to beat a team in this league. We need everybody."
"If we don't start doing it, it's going to be a long year," Smith said. "It already has been."
First Period—1, Detroit, Miller 4 (Rafalski), 8:24. Penalties—Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 11:50; May, Det, major (fighting), 11:50; Eaves, Det (roughing), 18:17.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Malone, TB (cross-checking), 3:27; Leino, Det (hooking), 3:58; Janik, Det (interference), 7:04; Bertuzzi, Det (high-sticking), 15:28.
Third Period—2, Detroit, Bertuzzi 9 (Holmstrom, Datsyuk), 6:48. 3, Detroit, Eaves 4 (Lidstrom, Rafalski), 10:10. Penalties—Abdelkader, Det (goaltender interference), 2:46; Ohlund, TB (high-sticking), 9:24; Maltby, Det (tripping), 9:24; Malone, TB (high-sticking), 16:43. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 10-10-10—30. Detroit 9-8-5—22. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 5; Detroit 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 5-9-5 (22 shots-19 saves). Detroit, Howard 11-6-1 (30-30). A—19,474 (20,066).