Not even a five-minute power play could help the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
The Penguins missed an opportunity to take a three-point lead in the Atlantic Division over idle New Jersey, losing to a team they had beaten in five of their previous six games. The Lightning had lost 14 of their previous 18 overall and were playing their second game in two nights after losing 3-2 in Columbus on Tuesday.
"It was pretty bad. There's no sugar-coating it or trying to make something positive out of it, we didn't do anything that was positive," Pens captain Sidney Crosby said. "We weren't ready to play. We thought we were going to play a team that laid down and isn't going to go to the playoffs, and we were just going to show up. Clearly, it didn't happen."
Coach Dan Bylsma agreed -- so much so that the Penguins coach called for an 8:30 skate on Thursday morning when the team was originally slated to have the day off.
"I don't think it's a lack of knowing or lack of understanding," Bylsma said. "We've talked about and we've made note of focus and preparation. We know we need to get better at that. We've addressed it before and we'll keep addressing it and keep pushing."
Stamkos broke a scoreless tie by scoring a power-play goal with three minutes left in the first when he one-timed a feed from Martin St. Louis past Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (15 saves). Stamkos tied Alex Ovechkin for second place in the NHL with his third goal in four games. Both are one behind Crosby, who has 47.
With the Lightning's playoff chances all but dead, Stamkos is hoping to pass Ovechkin and Crosby in goals before the season concludes.
"It's something that's obviously on your mind, you get asked about it a lot, so it would definitely be nice," Stamkos said. "We got five games left and whatever happens, happens."
Stamkos' tally came roughly 15 minutes after Lightning defenseman Matt Lashoff was handed a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct for drilling Pens forward Ruslan Fedotenko from behind. But Pittsburgh couldn't get anything past Smith, who notched his second shutout in six career games against the Penguins.
"With all due respect to them, there's a handful of guys I haven't even heard of," Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "They've got nothing to play for and they come in and outwork us in our building. It's a little concerning."
Steve Downie doubled Tampa Bay's lead just 29 seconds into the second period, when he took a pass from St. Louis and ripped a shot from the right circle past Fleury for his 22nd goal of the season.
"We really got a lot of momentum off that five-minute penalty kill," Stamkos said. "That's tough to go down for five minutes against a team like that."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|Power Play %||16.9%||16.5%|
|% on Road||13.5%||15.6%|
|% at Home||20.0%||17.0%|
|Matt Lashoff Boarding (maj) against Ruslan Fedotenko|
|Matt Lashoff Game misconduct against Ruslan Fedotenko|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky Interference against Vincent Lecavalier|
|Chris Kunitz Unsportsmanlike conduct against Nate Thompson|
|Nate Thompson Unsportsmanlike conduct against Chris Kunitz|
|Jordan Leopold Interference against Steve Downie|
|Todd Fedoruk Too many men/ice - bench|
|Matt Cooke Roughing against Paul Szczechura|
|Mike Smith Holding against Mike Rupp|
|Zenon Konopka Fighting (maj) against Bill Guerin|
|Bill Guerin Fighting (maj) against Zenon Konopka|
|Steven Stamkos Tripping against Chris Kunitz|
|Andrej Meszaros Roughing against Bill Guerin|
|Bill Guerin Roughing against Andrej Meszaros|
|Matt Cooke Hi-sticking against Martin St. Louis|