Lightning players said it is not time to panic. Considering the way things are going, they might want to give it a try.
Nothing else is working.
In an embarrassing effort Tuesday night, Tampa Bay fell 5-2 to the Islanders at the St. Pete Times Forum, a third straight loss that extended an 11-game downturn in which it has won twice.
"There is no time to panic. We have to get out of this," center Nate Thompson said. "We have to regroup and bounce back and come with a good upbeat attitude (today) at practice.
"We have a team fighting for their (playoff) lives in Carolina," he said of Friday's opponent. "At the same time, so are we."
That's something, isn't it? It wasn't long ago Tampa Bay (39-23-11) challenged the Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division. Now it is seven points behind Washington, and though a playoff spot seems secure, if they keep playing like this, how will they fare?
So, again, is it time to panic?
"When you panic, it just creates more problems," wing Marty St. Louis said. "It's adversity right now. We're being tested, each and every one of us."
Against the Islanders, Tampa Bay was sabotaged by what coach Guy Boucher called "a total lack of structure. And when you lack structure, you give seams, you give all kinds of stuff."
Boucher said players were too focused on putting pressure on goalie Al Montoya, who faced 38 shots but didn't seem overly stressed because many, especially early, came from the outside.
The consequences were four unanswered goals by New York after Thompson scored 61 seconds into the game. Tampa Bay allowed two shorthanded goals (one into an empty net), giving it four in its past three games and a league-worst 15.
The power play mustered one goal in seven tries, when Dominic Moore made it 4-2 in the third period, but had only six shots in 10:54 with the extra man. Steven Stamkos, with three goals in 19 games, disappeared with zero shots. Simon Gagne had one shot and was minus-3.
At least Boucher didn't lose his sense of humor. "On the power play," he said, "we're going to put three defensemen on the blue line because two isn't enough."
At least we think he was kidding. Seriously, though, "You can't sit there and wait for it to happen," goalie Dwayne Roloson said. "You have to create it. You have to play in the same system to win hockey games but try to be a hero."
"We worked to be where we are in the standings," St. Louis said. "I'm not going to sell that short because of our play lately. Yeah, we're in a jam. But until we get everybody going and on top of their game, that's rolling the dice."
Which is one step from panic.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Thompson 9 (Purcell, Lecavalier), 1:01. 2, NYI, Bailey 11 (Jurcina), 10:22 (pp). Penalties—Tampa Bay bench, served by B.Jones (too many men), 1:58; MacDonald, NYI (tripping), 7:58; St. Louis, TB (tripping), 8:32.
Second Period—3, NYI, Okposo 5 (Jurcina, Grabner), 5:16. 4, NYI, M.Martin 5 (Hillen, Konopka), 13:39. Penalties—None.
Third Period—5, NYI, Nielsen 11, 8:08 (sh). 6, Tampa Bay, Moore 14 (Bergenheim, Thompson), 10:31 (pp). 7, NYI, Grabner 31, 19:14 (en-sh). Penalties—Parenteau, NYI (interference), :52; Brewer, TB (interference), 5:08; Comeau, NYI (high-sticking), 7:38; Martinek, NYI, double minor (high-sticking), 9:02; Tavares, NYI (high-sticking), 13:36; Hamonic, NYI (cross-checking), 14:17; Bergenheim, TB (roughing), 14:17; Hillen, NYI (holding stick), 15:37; Lecavalier, TB (hooking), 15:37; Jurcina, NYI (hooking), 18:24; Kubina, TB (holding), 19:51. Shots on Goal—NYI 11-8-9—28. Tampa Bay 9-11-18—38. Power-play opportunities—NYI 1 of 3; Tampa Bay 1 of 7. Goalies—NYI, Montoya 8-3-4 (38 shots-36 saves). Tampa Bay, Roloson 20-23-5 (27-23). A—17,400 (19,758).