Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper expected his team to have a bounce-back effort Sunday in Boston after a "stinker" of a performance two days earlier versus Columbus.
The Lightning certainly played better against the Bruins.
But the result was the same.
Boston beat the Bolts 4-1 on Sunday, the Bruins' Tuukka Rask nearly notching a shutout until Victor Hedman struck with 2:39 to go to salvage a goal for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay will try to get back on track Tuesday against the same Columbus team that dominated the Lightning on Friday.
Tampa Bay has lost two straight. Why have the losses been piling up of late? We'll attempt to break down what went wrong in Beantown in today's 3 Things.
Video: TBL@BOS: Hedman's point shot redirects past Rask
1. ATYPICAL PERFORMANCE
In seasons past under Jon Cooper and again at the start of this season, the Lightning have generally performed well following a poor showing like the one the Bolts' gave on Friday against Columbus.
Earlier this year, after looking lethargic in a 4-0 home loss to Colorado, the Lightning rebounded with a 4-1 victory in Ottawa, outplaying the Senators for nearly the duration and putting together one of their better games of the season.
When the Lightning were drubbed later on that road trip by the New York Rangers 6-1 at Madison Square Garden, the Bolts responded with a 6-1 victory of their own two nights later over the Islanders.
Lightning fans expected to see a better team on Sunday than the one that got outworked two days earlier according to their coach.
The effort was there against the Bruins, but the Bolts' uneven play resulted in a second-straight defeat.
"Our guys gamed it out," Cooper said. "Really, it was just a nothing game, we were having a good road game and then it basically was blown assignments. That's the tough part."
On Friday, Cooper said his team needed to do more of the dirty work to get more chances on net, things like getting in front of the net to screen the goalie or battling for position to tip shots or look for redirects.
The Bolts were better in that regard Sunday but still not good enough to turn the game around once Boston went up by multiple goals.
"it's hard to tell a smaller guy to get to an area, a 5-foot-9 guy to get through a guy that's 6-foot-4, but you have to use your skills, you have to use your speed, your compete, your tenacity and all those things," Cooper said. "And I thought our guys did a lot of that. Like I said, it was blown assignments and that's what ultimately resulted in the pucks that went in the net. By no means was it effort. Guys were gaming it out. They worked, it was just one of those games where everything they touched went in and nothing we touched went in. That's it."
2 SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKDOWNS
The power play and penalty kill can be a difference maker in games and it certainly was for the Lightning at TD Garden against the Bruins.
Unfortunately, the effect was negative for the Bolts.
With the game still scoreless in the opening period, the Lightning were awarded a pair of power plays and an opportunity to gain some much-needed momentum in the game.
Instead, they struggled to get the power play set up in the Bruins' zone, and once they did, had trouble getting good looks at goal.
Boston easily killed both penalties and seemed to get a lift from its special teams play.
Conversely, Boston's lone power play midway through the second period was a game changer for the Bruins.
Holding a 1-0 lead, Boston was able to double its advantage when David Backes redirected Torey Krug's shot from the top of the left circle past Ben Bishop.
Boston only got one power play on Sunday.
It would prove to be the only one they'd need.
Down 2-0 and finding it difficult to get quality scoring chances against a Boston netminder playing some of his best hockey of the season was enough for Backes' power-play marker to be the final nail in the coffin for the Lightning.
Video: BOS@TBL: Bishop kicks out Bergeron's slap shot
3. BISHOP SEARCHES FOR CONSISTENCY
After giving up five goals to Columbus on Friday, Ben Bishop was in the net again for the Lightning two days lateragainst Boston, Cooper going back to his top netminder, hoping for a better result to build Bishop's confidence.
Just like the Columbus game, however, the skaters in front of Bishop didn't do much to help their goalie out.
Bishop let in four goals on Sunday to lose his second-straight game. Bishop hasn't given up nine combined goals in back-to-back starts since the 2014-15 season when he let in five in a Game 3 victory over the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final before allowing five more in a Game 4 loss.
Cooper, though, felt Bishop played a pretty decent game against Boston. The goals the Lightning allowed were more a result of mistakes made in front of Bishop.
"You've got to feel for him because that first period he was solid," Cooper said. "There weren't very many chances either way, but he was commanding, he was playing the puck and then these bounces go in on him. That first (goal), you can't allow two of their guys at the net and just have them swatting at pucks. We've got to help him out a little bit, and I don't know if we did."
Following the game, Cooper was asked if he sensed any eroding confidence in Bishop following an up-and-down start to the season for a goalie who's been so key to the Bolts' success the last few seasons.
"There (are) so many ebbs and flows," Cooper responded. "The lows aren't that low in the big picture and the highs aren't really that high. You've got to kind of just stay the course. It's no different than when our goal scorer doesn't score in 10 and everybody uses the gripping the stick too tight (excuse). Keep going to work and eventually the goal scorers will score and guys that set up guys will set up guys and good goalies will stop pucks. It's what happens, just got to weather through it."