You could blame the defeat on the missing captain, Steven Stamkos. After all, it was only his second game since leaving with a blood clot.
You could blame it on the absence of defenseman Anton Stralman, whose broken fibula kept him out again.
Or, if you prefer, you could blame it on the uncharacteristic play of goaltender Ben Bishop, who was chased from the game after giving up five goals for only the second time all season. Bishop, who entered leading the league with a 2:00 goals against average, let in five in 23 shots against the New York Islanders.
The defeat kept the Bolts’ magic number at one point.
Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman scored for the Bolts, who play the New York Rangers tonight.
“We didn’t think about our net tonight, that was it,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “So when you give up four breakaways in the second period, especially when we have time and possession … and we just stopped shooting the puck. We just wanted to tap it around until it was placed in the net. Then we press and press and press and we are not shooting, ultimately they would get a breakaway and score.
“That was the tough part to watch because they were working their tails off, competing and battling, we just weren’t working smart enough.’’
Bishop was pulled from the game for only the second time all season.
“This is not on Bish, he’s been there for us all year,’’ Ryan Callahan said. “We were just worried about the other side of the net and not our own. When we play like that we are not successful. I think our effort was there, we put pucks to the net and had some chances, but the defensive side of the puck wasn’t good enough tonight.’’