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JUST ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS

The Lightning outplays the Senators but can't capitalize on its chances or get a break.
Published Jan. 6, 2012

Lightning wing Marty St. Louis could only stare at the net, seemingly in disbelief.

With Tampa Bay down two goals early in the third period, St. Louis lifted a rebound over Senators goalie Craig Anderson. But the puck, fluttering in the air, bounced harmlessly off the post.

It was that kind of night for the Lightning, which lost 4-1 Thursday to Ottawa despite outshooting and outplaying the Senators in front of a sellout crowd of 19,944 at Scotiabank Place.

"I thought we gave everything we had," defenseman Pavel Kubina said. "We deserved better than the score."

The Lightning (17-19-3) has found ways to lose its share of games in a season in which it entered Thursday seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But Tampa Bay - which held a 36-24 shot advantage - couldn't buy a break against Ottawa.

"We can't get more scoring chances than we got," coach Guy Boucher said.

To add injury to insult, the Lightning lost more than a game. Forwards Adam Hall and J.T. Wyman left the game with upper-body injuries, and Boucher said they are more than day to day.

"I've had years with a lot of adversity, but every week, every two days, there's something happening," Boucher said. "We can't get our head above water. We're going to have to battle through it."

Thursday marked the return of goalie Dwayne Roloson, who made his first start since Dec. 12. Roloson made some good saves but allowed three goals on 23 shots. Tampa Bay did have a better defensive effort and controlled play for a lot of the game.

The Lightning even had some quality looks on the power play, but it continued its puzzling futility on the road. It's now 1-for-33 on the power play in the past nine road games (and a league-worst 7-for-82 on the season). That includes coming up empty with a golden opportunity, down by a goal with eight minutes left.

"We weren't opportunistic on our chances," St. Louis said.

But Ottawa was, getting an important goal late in the second on a delayed penalty and leading 1-0. Stamkos brought Tampa Bay within one with just more than 11 minutes left, driving to the net and knocking in a loose puck in the crease. It was his league-leading 28th goal of the season.

About a minute after Lightning center Dana Tyrell hit the crossbar, Senators center Zack Smith sealed the deal with just more than three minutes to go on a one-timer for a 3-1 lead.

"It's a tough one to swallow," Stamkos said. "It's frustrating even more so when you do play well and don't get the result."