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ACTIONS SPEAK MUCH LOUDER

Neither Johan Holmqvist nor the Lightninglook like they had won three straight games.

Coach John Tortorella said almost nothing at Thursday night's postgame meeting with reporters, and that pretty much said everything.

The Lightning had just been trashed 8-4 by the Senators at the St. Pete Times Forum, and it really wasn't that close.

Tampa Bay's three-game winning streak? Gone.

The good feelings players planned to carry into this weekend's All-Star break? Shattered.

No need, Tortorella probably figured, to pile on.

"You're going to have to write your own story because I'm not going to take any questions," he said. "You guys do your own thing with your stories."

With that, he left it to his players to explain an embarrassing loss that dropped them to 20-25-5.

"I don't know what happened," goaltender Johan Holmqvist said, "but it wasn't good."

"Not very satisfying," defenseman Dan Boyle said, "not very satisfying at all."

Boyle returned to the lineup 11 weeks after his second surgery on his left wrist, had two goals and played a team-high 24:25. It wasn't nearly enough to offset Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, who had a career-high and team-record seven points on three goals and four assists.

It was the NHL's first seven-point game of the season, and the center's 67 give him the league lead by one over the Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier.

While Alfredsson, at plus-5, put on a clinic, Tampa Bay played as if on training wheels.

Holmqvist was pulled after a first period in which he allowed three goals, two bad, on 14 shots.

Tampa Bay, outshot 14-4 in the first, fell behind 3-0 and allowed Alfredsson and Jason Spezza to score the first two goals in a span of 29 seconds.

The power play was 0-for-3 for the game and is 6-for-50 in its past 18 games. Center Chris Gratton was minus-5. Defenseman Filip Kuba and wing Jason Ward were minus-4. And Tampa Bay's top players were invisible.

The team got third-period goals from Boyle, Nick Tarnasky and Craig MacDonald, who scored his second goal in as many games. But that was part of a sloppy period in which Ottawa also scored three.

"We need more consistency," Boyle said. "We need our top guys to play well. We need everyone to play well. I really don't care that I scored. The bottom line is that we lost, and that's what's frustrating."

Frustrating is that Lightning players met before the game to make sure they understood what was coming from the East's top team.

"We knew they had lost five of six," wing Andre Roy said. "We knew they had meetings. We knew they were going to come hard. ... I don't know if (because) Danny was back in the lineup we expected some magic. Maybe we wanted to see who was going to lead this thing for us."

Turns out nobody as respective goofs by Mathieu Darche, Ward, Paul Ranger and Brad Richards led to Ottawa's first four goals. A horrible defensive play by Kuba, who allowed Antoine Vermette to walk around him in the defensive zone, led to the fifth.

"We wanted to put our best foot out there, and we did that," Alfredsson said. "We skated well from the beginning, and we dictated play; so, great effort overall by us."

That said it all.

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