OTTAWA — The Lightning could not have played much worse Thursday night against the Senators.
In fact, the critique of right wing Stephane Veilleux after the 7-1 stinker at Scotiabank Place might have been funny if not so accurate.
"I think our first five minutes," he said, "were fine."
That means 55 minutes of not-so-much as the Lightning (2-2-2) lost its two-game winning streak.
Tampa Bay gave up two short-handed goals to Milan Michalek, who added a power-play goal for his first career hat trick. It was 0-for-6 on the power play, including zero shots during a 1-minute, 10-second five-on-three.
Goaltender Mike Smith allowed two bad goals, and the team was outshot 35-17, including a 13-0 stretch in the first period.
The only bright spot: Ryan Malone's sixth goal of the season, with assists from linemates Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. On the other hand, each was minus-3, as were Vinny Lecavalier and defenseman Mattias Ohlund.
Given Tampa Bay's history in Canada's capital city — 3-16-2 since 1998-99 and outscored 91-38 — you could say the team played to form.
But there were other ominous overtones.
"Our team defense the last few games is not good enough to give us a chance to play in this league," Ohlund said.
Coach Rick Tocchet promised a full debriefing in preparation for Saturday's matchup with the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. Of particular worry were the two short-handed goals. Add another allowed Monday against the Panthers and Tampa Bay has the league lead with three.
"Two short-handed goals against, it's embarrassing," Tocchet said. "It's an alarming thing right now. I know it's only Game 6, but when you give up three short-handed goals in two games, there's going to be some video, some talking, and there might be some changes."
Several players will cringe at what they see on video.
St. Louis' blue-line giveaway led to Alex Kovalev's goal, though defenseman Kurtis Foster did not help by releasing Kovalev in the defensive zone, resulting in an easy tap-in from the slot and a 1-0 lead.
Lecavalier, in the high slot on a power play, was caught in the offensive zone, sparking a Senators two-on-one that ended with Michalek scoring on a rebound after outpositioning Ohlund in the slot.
And St. Louis' bobble of a puck in the air led to Michalek's second shortie.
Things were no better offensively.
Lecavalier, still without a goal, had zero shots. Alex Tanguay, also goal-less, had one shot and missed from point-blank range in the first period.
"I just (stink) right now," Tanguay said.
Thursday, he was not alone.
First Period—1, Ottawa, Kovalev 2 (Alfredsson), 4:25. 2, Ottawa, Michalek 2 (Ruutu), 10:22 (sh). Penalties—Kovalev, Ott (hooking), 8:47; Malone, TB (interference), 13:37; Downie, TB (roughing), 19:43; Neil, Ott, double minor (roughing), 19:43.
Second Period—3, Ottawa, Michalek 3 (Alfredsson, Volchenkov), 5:41 (sh). 4, Ottawa, Picard 1 (Ruutu, Kelly), 6:15. 5, Ottawa, Foligno 1 (Phillips, Volchenkov), 10:59. 6, Tampa Bay, Malone 6 (St. Louis, Stamkos), 14:26. Penalties—Konopka, TB (interference), 2:18; Michalek, Ott (interference), 3:28; Carkner, Ott (holding), 4:09; Walker, TB, major (fighting), 7:16; Neil, Ott, served by Foligno, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 7:16; Tanguay, TB (holding), 17:11; Konopka, TB, major (fighting), 20:00; Downie, TB, double minor (roughing), 20:00; Phillips, Ott, major (fighting), 20:00; Volchenkov, Ott (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period—7, Ottawa, Michalek 4 (Spezza, Alfredsson), 11:39 (pp). 8, Ottawa, Ruutu 2 (Kelly, Karlsson), 17:01. Penalties—Ohlund, TB (delay of game), 11:04; Konopka, TB, misconduct, 11:57; Downie, TB, major (fighting), 11:57; Neil, Ott, misconduct, 11:57; Carkner, Ott, served by Foligno, minor-major (holding, fighting), 11:57; Halpern, TB (high-sticking), 17:24. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 6-6-5—17. Ottawa 14-13-8—35. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 6; Ottawa 1 of 6. Goalies—Tampa Bay, M.Smith 0-2-2 (35 shots-28 saves). Ottawa, Leclaire 3-2-0 (17-16).