The Tampa Bay Lightning surely envisioned a different result in their latest game, a blowout loss which came on the heels of a shutout win over a division rival.
Getting back on track may depend on whether their offense can pick up after two straight low-scoring efforts.
Tampa Bay plays its third on a four-game road trip Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators looking to maintain its lead in the tight Southeast Division.
The Lightning (24-12-5) beat Washington 1-0 in overtime Tuesday with the help of newly acquired goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who made 34 saves in his first start for Tampa Bay since coming over in a Jan. 1 trade from the New York Islanders.
However, Tampa Bay wasn't so sharp in an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The Lightning allowed the first goal seven seconds into the game, and Roloson was pulled twice, allowing five goals on 23 shots.
Leading scorer Steven Stamkos lost an edge and fell on a penalty shot attempt in the second period. Stamkos, whose 56 points are second only to Sidney Crosby, has been held scoreless for three straight games, matching his longest drought of the season.
"It's just one of those games where you could tell it was going to be a weird game from the first draw," Stamkos said. "We won the draw clean and they got a breakaway out of it."
Despite the win against the Capitals, the back-to-back one-goal efforts are not customary for a Lightning team ranking fourth in the Eastern Conference in goals per game. Tampa Bay averaged nearly three goals during a 9-1-1 stretch before falling to the Penguins.
The Lightning remain one point ahead of Washington and three points ahead of Atlanta in the division heading into Ottawa, where they've lost four straight and 20 of their last 23.
The Senators, however, have struggles of their own.
Ottawa (16-19-6) dropped its fourth straight Friday, falling 3-2 in a shootout against Chicago. Milan Michalek scored with 1:25 remaining to tie it after coach Cory Clouston pulled Brian Elliott for the extra attacker, but Elliott allowed the first two shooters to score in the shootout.
It was another tough loss after a disappointing first half of the season, which left the Senators in the bottom third of the East standings. Clouston was still pleased with Friday's effort.
"We've just got to build on this and keep moving forward," Clouston said. "The only thing we can do about the first 40 games is learn from it, make adjustments and get better. I thought (Friday) was a real good first step toward that."
Daniel Alfredsson, who has 60 points in 51 career games against Tampa Bay, scored 49 seconds into the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Elliott bounced back after allowing three goals on seven shots in a 5-1 loss to Toronto last Saturday to make 24 saves, a couple coming after Senators miscues to help keep the game tight.
"We turned a couple pucks over and he made two or three really key saves," Clouston said.
Although the teams haven't met this season, Ottawa has won five of the last seven against the Lightning and has outscored Tampa Bay 15-5 in the last four meetings at home. Roloson has also struggled with a 3.77 goals-against average while losing his last five starts against the Senators.
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