It wasn’t just that the Tampa Bay Lightning were beaten Thursday night.
They were clobbered.
The Lightning took it on the chin, 5-1, against the Vancouver Canucks, marking their sixth loss in seven games (and seventh in nine games). During their seven-game skid, the Bucs have given up five goals in four different games.
“First of all, I don’t even remember losing games by four goals, ever,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “Maybe one a year. We’re losing them at once a week now. It comes down to defending. You look back at the end of the game and say, ‘Oh, well they had 41 shots and this was going on and this goalie made a big save, whatever.’ We still gave up five. That doesn’t matter. Even if we do get a couple of these to go in, so we lose 5-3. You still lose.
“The harder guys are trying to score, it’s just the more it’s hurting. In the end, we have to protect. I think I’ve said this before, we just played two games. We scored one goal in two games and came out with three or four points. It’s the mindset you have to have, and clearly we didn’t have that tonight.”
The Bolts have been in a tailspin since losing to Nashville on Nov. 21. They’ve given up 31 goals in the nine games since.
“All of a sudden one goal goes in on us and it’s, ‘Now what do we do?’” said Cooper. “And we’ve never been like that. We’re putting the load on a lot of guys shoulders that have to step up here. You look at the game tonight and there were some bad stat lines for a few of those guys tonight, guys we depend on. It’s just, again, it all starts five feet out from our net and you work out from there, and we’re starting 195 feet from our net.”
Tampa Bay had the game’s first six shots Thursday night, and they had 41 in all. But Jack Skille scored two goals, Jayson Menga scored two and Erik Gudbranson scored one. Ben Bishop gave up four goals on 20 shots, and Andrei Vasilevskiy gave up one in 10.
Jonathan Drouin scored the only goal for the Lightning.
“As soon as we’ve got good things going, I thought we came out, we were outstanding and they come down, one shot, it’s in the net,” Cooper said. “It seemed that was it. The little bit of adversity hits, which I didn’t think was any at all. There’s 55 minutes left and I thought we were playing hard. Guys were doing some good things and then we just kind of stopped. They obviously get the second one, it’s a lucky one and then we really went down. For me, we’re battling back.
“We’re doing some good things. Our power play looked really good. Miller was making some good saves, but I thought territorially we had the advantage. But the fourth one was the killer. We’re clearly thinking about the wrong net. You go into the room down 3-1, which I thought we had momentum. We lost it all right there on that goal, and we were just completely thinking about the wrong net. We were all going one way, and Vancouver had other ideas. We turn it over, and it’s in the back of our net. That is a microcosm of what’s been going on lately.”
Tampa Bay is home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the defending Stanley Cup champions, Saturday night.