The disappointment resonating throughout the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room following Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators was perhaps unwarranted.
The Bolts outshot the Senators and created a number of solid scoring chances, but came up with nothing else.
Or so it seemed.
Despite the result, the Bolts'; second consecutive defeat in as many games, head coach Guy Boucher, as well as several of his veteran players, acknowledged that the effort was there, and that the only thing keeping them from earning a win that was sure to help the team keep pace in the playoff hunt was its failure to capitalize on important scoring opportunities.
"They gave everything they had," Boucher said. "But we just couldn't score again. We keep getting wide-open opportunities and we keep missing the net, so it's been a puzzle for us. We felt if we kept doing what we were doing, those Grade A chances would give us something. That's what's tough for me to accept. At some point, it's supposed to pay off and it hasn't." Take Teddy Purcell
for instance, who took a feed from Steven Stamkos
at the side of the net and had the puck roll off the toe of his stick before he could even gain possession and fire a clean shot off.
Stamkos had a good look himself, but rang one off the outside of the goal post.
"They gave everything they had" said Head Coach Guy Boucher of the Lightning
, appearing in his first game since Jan. 21 after coming back from injury, took several whacks at the puck from in-close but couldn't get it through Ottawa net minder Craig Anderson.
"We had our chances," Purcell said. "“We would have liked to have had a different result."
That’s especially true considering points are at a premium in the Eastern Conference and the Lightning, eight points out of the final playoff spot, play five of the final seven games in February against conference opponents, all of which they are chasing.
Still, Purcell remained optimistic about his team’s odds to make the postseason.
“We’re still big believers,” the Lightning forward said. “We know we have to take advantage of these next three games at home. We have to look forward and find a way.”
It can start with recognizing its recent struggles on offense, which on Tuesday night, were attributed to not creating screens in front and not being in proper position to collect rebounds. The Lightning also had two prime power play opportunities, but came up empty to prolong their slump with the man advantage to 7-for-72.
Both Purcell and Malone said after the game that the contest came down to who would execute more.
Added captain Vincent Lecavalier
: “It’s disappointing. But we’re keeping our heads up. We’re not just sitting back and not doing anything about it. We have to turn the page and look ahead to San Jose.”
“Falling down is not the sin,” Boucher said in echo of Lecavalier’s comments. “Falling down and not getting up, that’s the sin. So, we’re going to get up and move forward.”