SUNRISE — For the Lightning, the best news from Saturday night's gruesome 6-0 loss to the Panthers was Vinny Lecavalier apparently is not seriously hurt.
The captain, who left briefly late in the second period after a shot from Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe slammed into the first knuckle of his right hand, said an X-ray was negative.
And though Lecavalier admitted having trouble gripping his stick in the third, he said he will not miss Monday's game with the Stars.
"It should be fine," Lecavalier said. "It's pretty sore, but we have two days to take care of it, and hopefully, Monday it will feel better."
As for the rest of the game — which included four first-period goals, and three in three minutes, 50 seconds — well, throw the video in the trash.
"The type of game," left wing Simon Gagne said, "you totally want to forget about."
Said coach Guy Boucher: "From the beginning to the end, just off in every aspect — offense, defense, hitting, we weren't first on the puck, and when we did, we gave it away, guys falling everywhere.
"It's a tribute to (the Panthers). At the same time, by far our worst, worst outing. The mix of the two was just a catastrophe, and that's what it was."
With the Panthers scoring one fewer goal than it had in its first three games combined.
The loss kept the Lightning (3-1-0) from starting with four wins for the first time since the 2003-04 Stanley Cup season. And it continued Tampa Bay's inexplicable ineptitude in South Florida, where it is 13-26-4 with four ties.
There was solace that the team on its three-game road trip earned emotional wins over the Canadiens and Flyers. And Gagne said "maybe" fatigue was a factor against Florida.
Players certainly did not skate well or play with passion. A bad turnover by defenseman Pavel Kubina led to a goal, as did an unsuccessful foray into the offensive zone by defenseman Randy Jones. Five players were minus-3.
Boucher changed line combinations. He put the second power-play unit out first. He even lifted goalie Dan Ellis in the first period with the score 3-0, even though the goalie was not at fault.
"I was trying to shake something. I didn't shake much," Boucher said. "There are 82 games. There are going to be about 10 of those. Let's hope the next one is far away."
At least Lecavalier's knuckle was in one piece, though very red and swollen.
"It's a tough one to swallow after two big games against Montreal and Philly," he said while flexing his hand. "We have to make sure it doesn't happen again."
First Period—1, Florida, Stillman 1 (McCabe, Dvorak), 1:50. 2, Florida, Booth 1 (Matthias, Olesz), 14:25. 3, Florida, Reinprecht 1 (Bernier, Santorelli), 15:13. 4, Florida, Wideman 1 (Weiss, McCabe), 18:15 (pp). Penalties—Hall, TB (interference), 17:33; Downie, TB (interference), 19:00.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Frolik, Fla (tripping), 4:16; Higgins, Fla (hooking), 10:40; Bergenheim, TB (slashing), 17:00.
Third Period—5, Florida, Booth 2 (Olesz, McCabe), 7:49. 6, Florida, Olesz 2 (McCabe, Booth), 17:25. Penalties—Stamkos, TB (holding), 13:28. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-11-9—29. Florida 19-7-12—38. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Florida 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Ellis 1-1-0 (15 shots-12 saves), Smith (15:13 first, 23-20). Florida, Vokoun 2-2-0 (29-29). A—17,040 (17,040).