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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a lethargic loss in Ottawa

Beat writer Bryan Burns recaps Tampa Bay's 4-2 loss to Ottawa

by Bryan Burns /

For as much good as the Lightning did in Thursday's 7-3 rout of Toronto, two nights later in Ottawa those positive vibes were nowhere to be found.

Tampa Bay looked listless and lethargic in a 4-2 loss to the Senators, who entered the game without a win but never trailed against the Bolts. Ex-Lightning first-round pick Vladislav Namestnikov terrorized his former team, scoring the game-winning goal on a two-on-one break with 3:03 to go and sealing the victory for the Sens with an empty-net goal, part of a three-point night in his second game with his new club since coming over in a trade with the New York Rangers on October 7.

For Tampa Bay, it's back to the drawing board to try and figure out how it can look so good one game and flat the next.

We'll take a stab too with Three Things we learned from the Ottawa loss.

Video: Cooper on the loss to the Senators

1. 5-on-5 PLAY LACKING
Some of the problems that plagued the Lightning through their first four games of the season cropped up again in Ottawa.

The Lightning turned the puck over too much. Passing wasn't crisp. Decision making at times was head scratching.

All combined it led to stagnant play at 5-on-5 for the Lightning where they weren't able to get into much of a flow. The Lightning had some good shifts in Ottawa. But they had many more that were sub-par, and a Senators team that came out with purpose trying to collect their first win capitalized.

"I don't think it was for lack of effort," Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "Really, just disjointed."

The Lightning seemed to play their best when behind. After Colin White broke open a 0-0 game past the midpoint of the second period to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead, Tampa Bay answered on its next shift, Tyler Johnson threading a pass through bodies in front of the net to find Ondrej Palat on the back post for the tying goal.

When Ottawa re-established a one-goal lead on Jean-Gabriel Pageau's late second period go-ahead tally, the Lightning again responded out of the break, Luke Witkowski scoring just his second career goal and first ever with the Bolts from the lower left circle off a setup from Pat Maroon.

But with the game was tied, the Lightning seemed to be spinning their wheels much of the evening.

"It just seemed like through the whole game it wasn't a consistent enough effort," Alex Killorn said. "We had some really good shifts, but it seemed like they outworked us in a lot of aspects. We've got to do better in that department."

Video: Ryan McDonagh on the Bolts' loss to Ottawa

Tampa Bay's power play looked as sharp as it's ever been in scoring two goals on three opportunities at Toronto, the Lightning swinging the puck around at will in the zone and creating openings by keeping the puck constantly moving.

But on Saturday, the quick movement and on-target passing was nowhere to be found.

Tampa Bay had four power plays in Ottawa, each one a chance for the Lightning to potentially grab the lead.

They never came close to taking advantage.

The first opportunity was a harbinger of things to come the rest of the game for the Lightning power play. The puck stagnated on sticks. The quick one-touch passing that worked so effectively in Toronto was absent in Ottawa. Shot attempts came from the perimeter and never reached the target.

The Lightning wouldn't register a shot on goal on their first power play.

Their second power play didn't produce one either.

Tampa Bay's penalty kill had its top game so far of the young season, going 4-for-4 in Ottawa.

With a chance to swing momentum on the power play, however, the Lightning sputtered.

Video: TBL@OTT: McElhinney robs Ryan's bid from in close

One bright spot for the Lightning came from the play of backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who once again gave Tampa Bay a chance to win on the road.

In a 0-0 game in the first period, McElhinney made several high quality saves with the Senators knocking on the door, at one point stopping three good scoring opportunities in quick succession to frustrate Ottawa.

McElhinney made a couple more point-blank stops in the third period to keep the Lightning deficit at one.

The backup goalie has looked sharp in both of his starts so far this season. But his record stands at 0-1-1 mainly because the guys in front of him can't produce enough offensively to give him a chance for a win. Against Ottawa, the Lightning tallied just 21 shots on net. In his first start at Carolina, an overtime loss, the Lightning could only muster a paltry 13.

"He's been incredible," McDonagh said. "He came up with some huge stops to give us a chance. It's really unfortunate we aren't able to get him a W the way he's started the year. Hats off to him, he's doing everything that's expected of him and that's great to see."

Unfortunately, the Lightning aren't doing enough in front of McElhinney to allow him to collect his first victory with the Bolts.

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