GLENDALE, Ariz. — If there was one thing Lightning coach Jon Cooper was upset about in Saturday night's 6-3 loss to the Coyotes, it was this:
"I just think at some point we looked to get off the ice," he said. "We wanted the game to end and let's move on to the next game."
That's not tough to understand given that so much went wrong for Tampa Bay at Jobing.com Arena.
With little jump in its legs, the Lightning generated just 30 shots against a team that allows an average of 36 per game, and 14 of those came in the third period after Phoenix took a 5-2 lead. There also were few Grade A chances against Coyotes and former Lightning goalie Mike Smith.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who has been so good, came out of the game 1:48 into the second period after allowing his third goal on 14 shots. Bishop was probably going to be pulled at that point anyway, but he also needed a checkup for a shot off the mask during the sequence in which Phoenix took a 3-0 lead on Mike Ribeiro's five-on-three goal.
"You take a 90 mph slap shot off the side of your face, it takes a second to get your bearings," said Bishop, who indicated he had no ill effects after watching from the bench as Anders Lindback finished the game.
Finally, the Lightning (14-6-0), which had allowed a league-low six first-period goals, allowed two in 57 seconds. The second came when a puck shoved to the front of the net by Martin Hanzal, who was on the ice behind the goal line with Radko Gudas on him, deflected in off Bishop's left foot.
"We just didn't have it," captain Marty St. Louis said. "It could be many things, our execution, or effort at times."
Richard Panik scored his first goal of the season, Alex Killorn his sixth and rookie J.T. Brown the first of his career. But even those moments did not create momentum.
After Panik scored to make it 3-1 with 3:41 left in the second period, Connor Murphy made it 4-1 46 seconds later with his first career goal on a slap shot from near the blue line.
"Unacceptable," Cooper said. "That can't happen."
"We're not going to go a perfect 82," St. Louis said. "We're going to have stinkers. (Saturday) was one of them. We have to address it and turn the page."
Give the Coyotes credit. They checked hard to slow Tampa Bay. But fault the Lightning for having no answer. Still, the team leads the Eastern Conference, somewhere no one expected it to be.
"I'm the farthest thing from disappointed," Cooper said. "We're pretty much at the quarter pole, and I love the way we've played. But did I like the way we played (Saturday)? No."
First Period—1, Pho, Stone 6 (Ribeiro, Rundblad), 15:58 (pp). 2, Pho, Hanzal 6 (Korpikoski), 16:55. Penalties—Ekman-Larsson, Pho (boarding), 8:15; Sustr, TB (tripping), 14:29; Killorn, TB (slashing), 20:00.
Second Period—3, Pho, Ribeiro 6 (Hanzal, Vrbata), 1:48 (pp). 4, TB, Panik 1 (Johnson, Killorn), 16:19. 5, Pho, Murphy 1 (Vrbata, Korpikoski), 17:05. 6, TB, J.Brown 1 (Purcell, Sustr), 17:55. Penalties—Crombeen, TB (tripping), 1:00; Moss, Pho (holding), 14:13.
Third Period—7, Pho, Doan 10 (Hanzal, Vrbata), 1:37. 8, TB, Killorn 6 (St. Louis, Sustr), 18:58. 9, Pho, Korpikoski 4 (Hanzal), 19:41 (en). Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—TB 4-12-14—30. Pho 11-10-9—30. Power-play opportunities—TB 0 of 2; Pho 2 of 3. Goalies—TB, Bishop (14 shots-11 saves), Lindback 1-4-0 (1:48 second, 15-13). Pho, Smith 12-3-3 (30-27).