RALEIGH, N.C. — Lightning coach Guy Boucher was clear to his players how disappointed he was in Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.
Today, he said, he will act on his dismay.
Boucher did not divulge his practice plan, but based on his unusually short and tight-lipped postgame comments, it could be interesting.
"I don't wait for things to change," Boucher said. "We'll make them change."
Rookie Brett Connolly's first NHL goal with 5:44 left made the score 3-2. But 54 seconds later, a bad offensive pinch by defenseman Pavel Kubina created a two-on-one that ended with Chad LaRose's goal that restored the two-goal edge.
What most bugged Boucher, though, was another slow start on the road.
The Lightning, 5-5-2 but 2-4-2 away from home, has been outscored 13-8 in the first period. Boucher emphasized a better start. Instead, Carolina dominated the first with a 19-7 shot advantage.
Thanks to goaltender Dwayne Roloson, the Lightning escaped 1-1. But two Jeff Skinner goals put Carolina up 3-1 in the second with a 27-17 shot advantage.
"We're not shooting the puck enough," defenseman Eric Brewer said. "We're a team that needs to get a little bit of zone time, get some scramble plays to get the guys going. We're very methodical and just trying to see our way through a game. It doesn't happen."
It didn't help that defenseman Victor Hedman, who was minus-3, was outhustled by Skinner, who scored 22 seconds into the second for a 2-1 lead. Or that the Lightning failed to tie the score on a two-minute, five-on-three.
And when Brewer's stick snapped as he shot from the Carolina blue line, the play quickly went the other way and Skinner made it 3-1 with 9:22 left in the second.
"Just one of those nights," said Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier, who had a game-best seven shots, including one off the post and one, during the five-on-three, off the stick shaft of goalie Cam Ward.
If only it looked more like the third period, when Tampa Bay had a 13-4 shot advantage to cut its overall deficit to 31-30.
"We were more desperate," Lecavalier said. "If we came out like that in the first it would have been a different game."
"It bothers the guys," Brewer said. "No one is trying to do it the wrong way. Guys just have to focus on what they need to do and stop thinking their way through the game and just get to it."
That is what Boucher will address today.
"If we don't fight and battle," he said, "we're going to lose against every single team in this league."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Purcell 4 (Bergeron, Malone), 15:14. 2, Carolina, LaRose 2 (Harrison, Ponikarovsky), 18:21 (pp). Penalties—Shannon, TB (holding), 12:51; Roloson, TB, served by Purcell (tripping), 16:23.
Second Period—3, Carolina, Skinner 5 (Pitkanen), :22. 4, Carolina, Skinner 6 (Jokinen), 10:38. Penalties—LaRose, Car (hooking), 4:58; E.Staal, Car (tripping), 4:58.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Connolly 1 (St. Louis, Lecavalier), 14:16. 6, Carolina, LaRose 3 (Tlusty), 15:10. Penalties—Harrison, Car (cross-checking), 20:00. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 7-10-13—30. Carolina 19-8-4—31. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 2; Carolina 1 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 2-3-1 (31 shots-27 saves). Carolina, Ward 5-2-2 (30-28). A—13,374 (18,680). T—2:24. Referees—Greg Kimmerly, Stephen Walkom. Linesmen—David Brisebois, Ryan Galloway.