TAMPA — Lightning coach Guy Boucher walked into his office at the St. Pete Times Forum and slammed shut the door.
That's not the norm for someone who, win or lose, revels in the analytical. But after Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Senators, Boucher's emotions ran free.
"We're not as mature a team as I thought," he said.
"We didn't have the competitive level we need. Any team can beat you. I've said it from the beginning of the year: Against the weakest team or the strongest team, the minute we waste minutes, we're cooked."
It's an old story for Tampa Bay (38-22-8) to struggle against teams it should beat; in this case, points-wise, it was the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
The loss wasted Wednesday's emotional victory over the Blackhawks that broke a four-game losing streak, and it dropped the Lightning four points behind the first-place Capitals in the Southeast Division.
"It's unacceptable," center Steven Stamkos said. "It's not the coach, and it's not management; it's the players. For some reason, that first period was awful, myself included. We all need to step up."
Most of the second period was awful, too. Tampa Bay fell behind 2-0 53 seconds in when wing Dana Tyrell and defenseman Eric Brewer blew assignments that led to Bobby Butler's goal.
The Lightning had a 20-4 shot advantage in the third period, and Marty St. Louis scored on a five-on-three power play. But that was window dressing.
"The mind-set is to be back to where we don't take anything for granted," center Dominic Moore said. "We earned the position we're in. Nothing comes free, even if you put in the work to get where you are."
Know who had that mind-set? Senators goalie Curtis McElhinney, whom the Lightning acquired Feb. 24 from the Ducks in the Dan Ellis trade and four days later lost on waivers. McElhinney stopped 34 shots in his Ottawa debut, including breakaways by Vinny Lecavalier and Stamkos. "It certainly is ironic you come here and end up taking two points from a very good team," he said.
But Lecavalier, who had a career-best 12 shots, and nine in the third, said the loss was on the Lightning. "Very disappointing," he said. "Once playoff time comes, you have an emotional win, you have to come back the next night. You have to learn to deal with the emotions of playing Chicago and doing it again."
"I would like to say we're going to learn our lesson," Boucher said. "But I can't answer because I never thought we'd come out like this."
With that, he left for his office.
First Period—1, Ottawa, Spezza 13 (Shannon, Karlsson), 10:35 (pp). Penalties—Neil, Ott (roughing), 7:06; Thompson, TB (tripping), 9:49; Lecavalier, TB (goaltender interference), 18:09.
Second Period—2, Ottawa, Butler 7 (Gonchar, Greening), :53. Penalties—Bergeron, TB (tripping), 1:39; Hedman, TB (tripping), 7:40; Hall, TB (slashing), 13:20.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 26 (Purcell, Stamkos), 2:56 (pp). Penalties—Foligno, Ott (tripping), 2:15; Winchester, Ott (boarding), 2:15; Thompson, TB (elbowing), 6:08; Butler, Ott (hooking), 12:28; Butler, Ott (delay of game), 14:46. Shots on Goal—Ottawa 10-8-4—22. Tampa Bay 6-9-20—35. Power-play opportunities—Ottawa 1 of 6; Tampa Bay 1 of 5. Goalies—Ottawa, McElhinney 7-9-1 (35 shots-34 saves). Tampa Bay, Roloson 19-22-3 (22-20). A—18,777 (19,758). T—2:19. Referees—Gord Dwyer, Dave Jackson. Linesmen—Scott Driscoll, Don Henderson.