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Lightning lose third straight as their scoring struggles continue

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The Tampa Bay Lightning is officially in a slump now. Who knows when they will find their way out of it?

The Lightning lost their third straight game Thursday night, something that never happened a year ago. They have scored only one goal in that run, something that never happened a year ago. They lost at home, something that rarely happened a year go.

And what in the world is going on?

You can call it a rough patch, but the Lightning has scored on only one of its last 82 shots over its last one hundred, eighty minutes and 17 seconds, just over three full games. The Bolts’ record for a scoreless streak is 1:66.34 in 2000.

“If this was the NFL with a 16-game season, I’d be worried,” said coach Jon Cooper. “But we have an 82-game schedule. I’m not worried. We’re so used to scoring goals, something like this makes you scratch your head. It’s natural to be frustrated. I’d be concerned if the players weren’t frustrated.”

How can the Lightning not be frustrated? Thursday night, they had plenty of scoring chances, and yet they could not get the puck past goalie Semyon Varlamov, who hadn’t been stopping a lot of them. This is a team with Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman. And all of them have taken three games away from the net.

Asked if he was frustrated, Palat was quick with his response. “Yes.” How much? “We feel it,” he said. It was as if he was still living his two-on-one breakaway where he missed.

Forward Alex Killorn finally broke a 1:56.03 scoring drought with a tap-in on the power play in the second period, but the Lightning launched into a new 24:14 scoring drought. Never mind the 35 shots.

The Lightning have yet to hold a lead after the first period in any game this season.

Forward Callahan said he didn’t think the team was pressing. Tampa Bay has given up only four goals (one of them an empty netter) in its last three losses.

“No I don’t think so. I thought out of the last three games, that was our best game chances-wise. We had a lot of opportunities, a bunch of two-on-ones, a couple posts, a couple breakaways, but you know, it’s just puck luck right now.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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