SUNRISE, FL - The Tampa Bay Lightning thought they were back on track following Wednesday's shootout win against Chicago, but their first win in March did not flip the switch that coach Guy Boucher had hoped it would. The Bolts came out flat Friday, and fell 2-1 to the worst team in the Eastern conference, the Ottawa Senators.
The Lightning have now lost 5 of their last 6 and have failed to score more than 2 goals in 8 of their last 9 games. The offense is sputtering, the goaltending shaky, and with injuries and Pavel Kubina's suspension the defense has holes. The Bolts are in no danger of missing the playoffs, but this recent stretch of uninspired play has seen the team drop from the 2nd seed in the east to the 5th and four points behind Washington in the Southeast Division. The Lightning must regain their form and soon, but today's trip to play the Florida Panthers may be difficult as the Panthers have beaten the Lightning three times already this season in four tries.
The Panthers have had struggles of their own, losing six of their last seven, including a 2-1 defeat to the same Senators that knocked off the Lightning Friday night. Since they're playing on back-to-back nights, the Lightning will most likely have Mike Smith in net, while the Panthers should have veteran Tomas Vokoun who is 2-0-1 against the Bolts this year.