COLUMBUS, Ohio — Coach Jon Cooper felt that the Blue Jackets taught the Lightning a lesson in Friday's beating in Tampa.
School was still in session Tuesday at Nationwide Arena.
The Lightning got dominated by Columbus in a 5-1 defeat, stretching its losing streak to a season high-matching three games. Columbus outworked, outshot (38-27) and outhit the Lightning.
"I'd love to play against us right now in our own end — it's easy," veteran center Brain Boyle said. "We've relied on our goalies, they've been phenomenal. They're great teammates because they haven't ripped into us yet for how we're treating them, for how we're defending.
"The worst part is we know how to do it."
This time, it was backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who bore the brunt of a sloppy defensive effort. Vasilevskiy, who had his four-game win streak snapped, gave up nearly half as many goals as he allowed in his first eight starts combined (12).
The Lightning (13-10-1) has given up 14 goals in its three-game streak, and it won't get easier with games against St. Louis on Thursday and Washington on Saturday.
Cooper declined to say what he told the team postgame, but he was more positive publicly than after Friday's 5-3 loss to Columbus, a performance he dubbed "red rotten." He compared this adversity to how Tampa Bay eventually suffered a dip in the weeks after an injury to Steven Stamkos three years ago.
"We've got to find ourselves, we've lost a little bit of our identity," Cooper said. "We can't sit here and think we're going to walk into a game and get three or four. That 2-1 mentality has got to return. It all comes down to defending, and right now we're not defending with the passion we need to. We're not paying the price in our own end."
The Blue Jackets made Tampa Bay pay, with a 28-13 shot attempt advantage in the first period. Lightning turnovers led to Columbus' first two goals, including a 3-on-1.
"We're being too tentative with the puck," Victor Hedman said.
The Lightning thought it pulled within one on a Jason Garrison goal five minutes into the second. But it was waved off and upheld despite Cooper's coaches challenge. The NHL ruled Ondrej Palat's "actions caused Columbus' Jack Johnson to contact goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing him from doing his job in the crease."
"I don't know anyone who saw it that way," Cooper said.
While the Lightning got robbed on that call, it didn't deserve a better fate in this game. Columbus put it away with three third-period goals. Boyle said the Lightning needs to remember how hard it has to compete to win in this league. It was a message players and coaches no doubt discussed in a postgame meeting.
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"They've seen us do it," Boyle said "But we need to get the job done, or things are going to change."
First Period—1, Columbus, Karlsson 4 (Murray, Anderson), 5:30.
Second Period—2, Columbus, Wennberg 5 (Jones), 3:40. 3, Columbus, Anderson 7 (Hartnell, Nutivaara), 16:00.
Third Period—4, Columbus, Hartnell 5 (Savard, Anderson), 1:57. 5, Columbus, Gagner 8, 12:38. 6, Tampa Bay, Filppula 5 (Sustr, Point), 17:10.
Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 6-7-14—27. Columbus 16-11-11—38.
Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 1; Columbus 0 of 1.
Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 6-2-1 (38 shots-33 saves). Columbus, Bobrovsky 12-5-2 (27-26).
A—10,366 (18,144). T—2:30. Referees—Mike Leggo, Tim Peel. Linesmen—Ryan Galloway, Brian Mach.