Where to start when talking about the Lightning’s 7-4 loss to the Panthers on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Perhaps it is best to begin at the end.
Center Steven Stamkos, after his team’s fifth straight loss, and after it laid an egg in a home opener tagged as a new start after a 1-2-2 road trip, admitted players are wondering what the heck is going on.
“I wouldn’t say we’re in panic mode, but we’re worried,” Stamkos said. “This isn’t the start we wanted.”
Or the way the team wants to play, specifically on special teams.
The Lightning (1-3-2) allowed five power-play goals, the most it ever allowed at home and tied for the most in a game. It also gave up a shorthanded goal to ex-Lightning Sean Bergenheim.
It was a startling performance, especially on the penalty kill, which in back-to-back losses to Florida went from efficient to sloppy.
The Lightning this season killed off its first 22 penalties but since then has allowed seven power-play goals in 14 chances in the two losses to Florida.
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson allowed at least five goals in his third straight game. But the Panthers — with two goals and four points each from Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg — moved the puck at will and took 16 of their 33 shots with the man advantage.
The Lightning also won just four of 16 shorthanded faceoffs.
“It seemed like we were getting caught in no-man’s land where we really weren’t taking away passing lanes but weren’t really taking away shooting lanes,” right wing Adam Hall said. “That’s a dangerous place to be caught.”
“We have to get more on the same page,” center Dominic Moore said. “Guys need to be aware of how we move and how we react. It’s a matter of communicating and working in unison.”
It’s also a matter of staying out of the penalty box, not only to eliminate power plays but to build momentum playing five on five.
The Lightning was called for 11 penalties and was shorthanded nine times. Its 36 times shorthanded is a league worst.
“If we can stay five on five, we give ourselves a chance,” coach Guy Boucher said. “We did some good things five on five. We scored four goals (in the game), and that should be enough to win at home.”
Want some positives? Stamkos, Teddy Purcell, Vinny Lecavalier and Victor Hedman scored, and Marc-Andre Bergeron had three assists to give him two goals and a team-best eight points.
The Lightning even had a 39-33 shot advantage.
But every time Tampa Bay crept closer — it was at 4-3 in the second period and 5-4 in the third — a penalty or lack of a save by Roloson, who has allowed 17 goals in his past three starts, messed up the comeback.
“We’re sabotaging ourselves,” Hall said.
Added Stamkos: “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
St. Petersburg Times