The first two series of this homestand against Florida and Carolina presented the Lightning an opportunity for face-to-face matchups against the teams they currently trail in the Central Division standings.
So it's a bit disappointing for Tampa Bay to have to settle for a second-straight split after falling 4-1 to the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
After a scoreless opening period, things picked up in the second with two Carolina goals and a fight all in the span of 25 seconds.
Nino Niederreiter opened the scoring at the 7:48 mark of the second period, cutting to the slot and one-timing Vincent Trocheck's feed past Andrei Vasilevskiy's glove.
Trying to spark something for Tampa Bay, Barclay Goodrow dropped the gloves with Jordan Martinook on the ensuing faceoff, landing a few big rights and taking Martinook to the ice. The fight had the opposite effect, however, as Jordan Staal doubled the Hurricanes' lead with a redirection on the following shift.
Carolina went ahead by three late in the period when Morgan Geekie won a puck along the wal andl centered for Steven Lorentz who beat Vasilevskiy with a shot to the stick side.
The Bolts gave themselves a chance going into the third with Brayden Point striking back 18 seconds later to make it 3-1. Point crashed the net with his stick on the ice and redirected Ondrej Palat's feed from the left wing past Alex Nedeljkovic.
Tampa Bay couldn't capitalize on any of the momentum off the late goal and were unable to cut into the deficit in the third. Martinook added an empty netter in the dying seconds of regulation to push Carolina's back up to three.
The Bolts will now welcome the Blue Jackets to Amalie Arena for a two-game set that begins on Thursday.
CAR | 7:48 Nino Niederreiter (16) - Vincent Trocheck, Martin Necas
CAR | 8:13 Jordan Staal (14) - Dougie Hamilton, Nino Niederreiter
CAR | 16:45 Steven Lorentz (2) - Morgan Geekie
TBL | 17:03 Brayden Point (20) - Ondrej Palat, Ryan McDonagh
CAR | 19:57 Jordan Martinook (3) - Sebastian Aho - ENG