Game 74: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Carolina Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning took another loss tonight, falling 4-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite everything Boucher has tried to get this team back in the groove, it seems like nothing is working.

The Lightning came out strong in the first period, opening the scoring, but completely fell apart in the second period. The game seemed like a lost effort through the third, until Lecavalier's goal, with only 7 minutes left in the game, created the game's first sign of momentum -  momentum which nearly brought a tie-breaker.

The reality of the challenge is setting in for the team. "It you play like this in the playoffs, it's gonna be a quick hit," Simon Gagne said afterwards. With every loss, it seems there are fewer answers for why they can't seem to win it.

The Lightning couldn't get any action until the closing minutes of the game, but by then it was too late. "We have to be a lot stronger mentally," said Boucher, "and a lot more mature than this."

The first period started out well. The Hurricanes came out with intense effort, but with Steve Downie back in the line up, the Lightning went into the game with energy - a major improvement over Tuesday's game against the Islanders.

At 5:53 Jay Harrison took a roughing penalty, lending the Lightning a second power play opportunity. After nearly giving up another shorthanded goal, with shots from Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer, Simon Gagne scored on a pass from Martin St. Louis 7 minutes into the first period to open the scoring.

Twelve minutes into the first, Jeff Skinner shot past Pavel Kubina and Dwayne Roloson to even the scoring at one. The Lightning ended the first period trailing Carolina 16-7 in shots on goal, but after the second period's mere three shots on goal, seven started to look attractive in comparison.

Erik Cole raised the score to two on the power play, finishing Cory Stillman's shot from the left circle.

The majority of the third period was hardly any better - at 6:30 the Lightning hadn't notched a single shot on goal, and at 6:50 Cole scored a third unassisted goal for Carolina.

Down 3-1, the battering continued after Eric Stall took the puck off of Joe Corvo's shot at the blue line, raising the score to 4.

And here, with 5 minutes left, the Lightning showed up for the game with Vinny's goal, followed by a power play goal from Gagne less than a minute later.

At 4-3, the Bolts fought through the final minutes of the period to try to even the score, but once again showed up too late to win the game.

St. Louis was disappointed with loss. "We didn't work tonight. We deserve the result."

Now on a four game losing streak, we can only hope that the darkest hour is right before dawn.

Up Next: The Lightning (39-24-11) are headed up to Raleigh tomorrow night to finish up the double header. Game starts at 7:00 PM, so jump on the game thread at 6:30 for commentary as you watch.

Other Recaps:

Hurricanes vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Hurricanes vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]

Canes Country [SB Nation]