It's been almost eight years since the Tampa Bay Lightning's last 10-game losing streak.
To prevent another one, the last-place Lightning will have to get past the surging Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
Few things have gone right for Tampa Bay (6-14-8) this season, as it sits last in the league with 20 points behind a sputtering offense that has scored more than three goals just twice in 28 games. Offensive stars Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis have been held to a combined 47 points.
The Lightning have been outscored 37-22 during their current nine-game slide (0-7-2), which continued Wednesday night with a 4-2 defeat at Buffalo.
St. Louis and Mark Recchi each scored in the first period, but Tampa Bay didn't find the back of the net again was held to two goals or fewer for the 13th time in 2008-09.
"It's very frustrating for me that we don't have guys willing to stand in front of the net on a consistent basis," said coach Rick Tocchet, who is 1-7-4 behind the bench since replacing the fired Barry Melrose on Nov. 14. "Maybe we are asking guys to do things they are not capable of doing."
Netminder Mike Smith made 33 saves but lost his eighth straight decision for Tampa Bay, which is on the verge of its first 10-game skid since Jan. 12-29, 2001.
Avoiding another 10-game losing streak could be a tall order against the Canadiens (16-6-5), who are 4-0-1 on their franchise-record seven-game homestand. Montreal scored three times in the first two periods Tuesday en route to a 4-1 victory over Calgary.
Robert Lang had two goals and an assist, while linemate Alex Kovalev assisted on both of Lang's tallies. Backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak turned in a 32-save effort for Montreal, which has held opponents to two goals or fewer in five of the last seven contests.
"(Halak) was very, very solid in net for them and probably was a difference maker," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said.
Halak and Carey Price have combined to limit visitors to 2.21 goals per game at the Bell Centre, where Montreal is 9-2-3 overall. Halak has never faced Tampa Bay, while Price allowed two goals on 31 shots in a shootout loss Dec. 11, 2007 - his lone appearance against the Lightning.
The Canadiens are 5-1-1 over their last seven games, and are 8-3-1 in their last 12 matchups versus the Lightning but lost the teams' most recent matchup, 3-2 in Tampa Bay on Feb. 12.
Montreal will be without defenseman Mathieu Dandenault (broken left arm) and forward Christopher Higgins (upper-body injury) on Thursday after both were hurt versus the Flames. Dandenault had to undergo surgery and is out indefinitely, while Higgins is considered day-to-day.
Although the Lightning have lost the first two contests of their four-game trip, they have split their last 14 visits to Montreal.
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