PITTSBURGH — If it makes Lightning players feel better, Saturday's brutal 8-1 loss to the Penguins apparently did not change what general manager Steve Yzerman has planned before Monday's trade deadline.
"I don't foresee us doing a lot," Yzerman said. "We're down to a pretty skeleton crew, so I don't foresee us doing a lot unless something is really good."
Mentally and physically, Tampa Bay (27-28-6) is a beaten-down squad. And it got worse at the Consol Energy Center, as defenseman Victor Hedman sustained an upper-body injury.
The team already is without Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie (all traded), and injured center Vinny Lecavalier.
The depleted lineup withered against league points leader Evgeni Malkin, whose four points included his second hat trick of the season against Tampa Bay and a goal-scoring rush that left defenseman Brett Clark twisting.
The loss, and Thursday's to the Jets, cut the Lightning's playoff hopes to slim and none, and will fuel speculation that Yzerman has little reason to hold on to assets that might bring returns to help the long-term plan.
"All we can control is what we do on the ice," said right wing Teddy Purcell, whose second-period power play goal made it 5-1.
"We only played one period in Winnipeg and a period and a half (in Pittsburgh). It's frustrating. We're down a lot of bodies. When it's raining, it's pouring right now."
"It doesn't matter who's here; you've got to go out and play," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said. "Every guy here is capable of playing in the NHL. We have to stick to our game plan and play the way we know how to play."
Had Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury not been superb in, say, the first 25 minutes, the game might have at least been competitive.
In a two-minute stretch in the second period with the Penguins up 3-0, Fleury stopped Trevor Smith's shot at what seemed an open net and breakaways by Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Hedman hit a post, too.
On the other hand, for Pittsburgh in the first period:
Chris Kunitz's shot deflected in off Hedman. Matt Cooke's shot went in off Roloson's back after it hit a post. And Jordan Staal scored on a shorthanded breakaway after linesman Steve Miller inadvertently blocked Hedman from a puck in the neutral zone.
"It's tough when we're missing all these goals and their goalie is stoning us and they get these breaks," coach Guy Boucher said. "It was mentally tough to take."
Just wait for Monday's trade deadline.
First Period—1, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 17 (Malkin, Neal), 11:09. 2, Pittsburgh, Cooke 12 (Vitale, Michalek), 11:59. 3, Pittsburgh, Staal 20, 14:40 (sh). Penalties—Michalek, Pit (high-sticking), 3:06; Michalek, Pit (interference), 13:55.
Second Period—4, Pittsburgh, Staal 21 (Sullivan, Neal), 10:11 (pp). 5, Pittsburgh, Malkin 34 (Kunitz, Engelland), 16:03. 6, Tampa Bay, Purcell 17 (Malone, Clark), 17:28 (pp). Penalties—Angelidis, TB, major (fighting), 5:51; Engelland, Pit, major (fighting), 5:51; Roloson, TB, served by Smith (roughing), 8:23; Malkin, Pit (roughing), 8:23; Mikkelson, TB (hooking), 8:54; Niskanen, Pit (cross-checking), 13:41; Mikkelson, TB, major (fighting), 17:01; Vitale, Pit, served by Sullivan, minor-major (goaltender interference, fighting), 17:01; Malkin, Pit (hooking), 19:36.
Third Period—7, Pittsburgh, Malkin 35 (Niskanen), 5:50. 8, Pittsburgh, Malkin 36 (Neal, Sullivan), 13:42 (pp). 9, Pittsburgh, Dupuis 14 (Staal, Sullivan), 19:12. Penalties—Vitale, Pit (tripping), 11:01; Connolly, TB (slashing), 12:36. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 11-14-10—35. Pittsburgh 9-12-13—34. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 6; Pittsburgh 2 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 8-12-2 (34 shots-26 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 32-14-3 (35-34). A—18,596 (18,387). T—2:29. Referees—Kyle Rehman, Stephen Walkom. Linesmen—Jay Sharrers, Steve Miller.