The Lightning has nine players injured and is nine points out of a playoff spot.
But the team has to be feeling good about itself after Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the hapless Blue Jackets at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as it enters the All-Star break with a season-best four-game winning streak.
Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis continued their hot streaks with a goal and assist each.
Mike Angelidis, called up earlier in the day from AHL Norfolk, scored his first NHL goal in his first game.
Nate Thompson also scored and goaltender Mathieu Garon was solid enough with 22 saves as the Lightning (21-23-4) had a 31-24 shot advantage.
It probably was a good thing Columbus was in town. A sloppy Tampa Bay team did not play its best game, but it was enough to overcome a Blue Jackets squad that is last in the Western Conference and whose 13 road points are tied with the Oilers for last in the league.
That said, Lecavalier and St. Louis have set a torrid pace as each is on a six-game points streak.
Lecavalier has three goals and seven assists in the stretch. St. Louis has two goals, eight assists.
And St. Louis' goal with 3:04 left in the second period off a perfect cross-ice pass from Lecavalier made it 3-1 and was the winner.
Tampa Bay fell asleep to open the third period and Ryan Johansen's snappy wrist shot 5:40 in cut Columbus' deficit to one. But Thompson's goal with 8:31 left restored the two-goal advantage.
The Lightning took a 1-0 lead with 6:40 left on a terrific play by Angelidis, who stripped a Columbus player of the puck in the neutral zone, carried to the net and got a backhander past goaltender Curtis Sanford.
It took the Blue Jackets just 47 seconds to get it back as defenseman Brett Lebda scored his first goal of the season off a pass from Derick Brassard, who outmaneuvered Lightning defenseman Brendan Mikkelson for the puck.
The second period was all Lightning, which went up 3-1 and had a 12-6 shot advantage.
Lecavalier's power-play goal 8:19 into the period made it 2-1. It was a pretty sequence with the captain, planted in front of the net, tipping in Bruno Gervais' shot from the high slot.
The tally broke Tampa Bay's 0-for-11 streak on the power play, though it did little to ease a 5-for-54 streak that spans its past 17 games.
It was 3-1 with 3:04 left as St. Louis scored at the end of a give and go with Lecavalier, who found St. Louis in front of the net for a tap-in.
It was St. Louis' first goal at home since Nov. 26.
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First-timers Mike Angelidis on Tuesday became the fifth Lightning player to score in his first NHL game:
|Mike Angelidis||Tuesday||Blue Jackets|
|Ryan Craig||Dec. 17, 2005||Red Wings|
|Jimmie Olvestad||Oct. 5, 2001||Islanders|
|Paul Mara||April 17, 1999||Panthers|
|Alex Selivanov||Jan. 20, 1995||Penguins|