Game 68: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Ottawa Senators

The Tampa Bay Lightning fell 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators, in what was perhaps the worst game of the year.

And this isn't the first time. We saw this less than a week ago. Against Montreal, the Lightning failed to come out in the start of the game, and weren't able to shake it. Tonight, the Lightning missed the boat completely.

The tragedy was the complete lack of effort. The warning signs were there, including the Senators winning six of the past nine games, but the Lightning had little stamina against a team at the bottom of the league who had a greater desire to win.

Boucher was shocked with the lack of effort--with the lack of competition. "We're not as mature of a team as I thought. Period. That's it."

There was an irony too, watching former Lightning goaltender Curtis McElhinney play such a strong game against this team. McElhinney made 34 saves overall, compared to Dwayne Roloson's 20.

Tonight was absolutely one of the worst starts of the year. The Lightning came out slow and totaled a mere six shots on goal in the first period, compared to the Senator's ten.

The opportunities were there. It looked like the Bolts were going to jump into the game after Chris Neil took a roughing penalty after a bad check against Steven Stamkos seven minutes in, but the Bolts had no favorable response, and instead let Ottawa take the lead.

There were also some positive moments from the Vinny-Marty-Stamkos combination; the line had several decent set-ups and good mobility in the first period, but the highlights were only a fraction of the team's effort overall. The motivation just wasn't there.

Jason Spezza scored on the power play to take the for the lone goal in the first period, following a tripping penalty to Nate Thompson 10 minutes into the period.

Following a tripping penalty to Nate Thompson, Jason Spezza scored the first goal on the power play ten minutes into the period, giving the Sens the 1-0 lead.

The second period was equally as dismal, starting with an early goal from Bobby Butler, who slid the puck past Dwayne Roloson in the first minute to raise the score 2-0. The Bolts didn't recover. Three more Lightning penalties gave the Senators the upper hand, and left the Bolts on the penalty kill for the bulk of the period.

The Lightning finally scored in the third period, after penalties to Nick Foligno and Jesse Winchester led to a 5-on-3. The effort was driven by Stamkos, who brought the puck in from the blue line and pushed in by Martin St. Louis to bring the score to 2-1.

Despite 20 shots in the third period, more than in the first two periods combined, but the effort came too late, and the Lightning fell 2-1.

"It's unacceptable," said Stamkos, "and it's very disappointing."

Hopefully, this time it's a wakeup call.

Up Next: The Lightning (38-22-8) will hit the road to face the Florida Panthers tomorrow night at 7:00 PM. Game thread opens at 6:30 so come on over!

Other Recaps:

Senators vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Senators vs Lightning recap [TSN]

Senators vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]

Silver Seven [SB Nation]