The Tampa Bay Lightning have hit a sizable bump in the road as the last full month of the regular season is about to begin.
Tampa Bay will look to snap a season-high four-game losing skid on Saturday when it hosts the Calgary Flames.
The Lightning played a strong two periods against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night and held a two-goal lead through 44 minutes of play. The visitors responded by scoring five straight goals in the final period of a 5-2 decision.
Defenseman Victor Hedman said his team needs to close out a mostly productive February (9-4-0) better than by adding another defeat.
"Obviously, it's a tough one to swallow," the former Norris Trophy winner said of the team's longest regular-season losing streak since January 2017.
"At the end of the day, you can't give up five goals in one period. It's not good enough."
Most troubling was the Lightning's power play, which has been ranked in the NHL's top five for much of the season. But with captain Steven Stamkos absent with a lower-body injury, they failed to find the back of the net on their five man-advantage chances.
"I think we had some better looks today. We had a lot of good shots. They just didn't go in," Hedman said. "Still, 0-for-5 is not good enough. It's not up to our standards."
Tampa Bay has another chance to live up to its standards at home, where the club is 20-9-2. The Lightning's franchise-record 11-game home winning streak was snapped on Tuesday.
Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov each posted a goal and an assist for the Lightning on Thursday, but Chicago rookie Dominik Kubalik notched his first career hat trick to spark the Blackhawks' five-goal outburst.
Calgary dropped a 4-3 overtime decision on Thursday to the Nashville Predators, who are one of the teams it is chasing in the wild-card race.
The Flames are just one point behind the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, second- and third-place respectively, in a tight divisional race, and to say the loss in Nashville was a tough one to stomach is putting it mildly.
The Predators' Mikael Granlund popped in the tying goal with one second left in regulation and followed that up with the winner in overtime to earn Nashville two points in the playoff race and deny the Flames of an important extra point.
Mikael Backlund notched the third of his three-point night by slicing through the Predators' defense and setting up Andrew Mangiapane's 16th goal with 43 seconds left in the third to give the Flames a 3-2 lead.
"It was a tough way to lose. There's no doubt about that," Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. "The puck seemed at the end like it was bouncing all around our net, and they whacked it home. Tough point to lose."
Backlund has totaled 10 points (five goals, five assists) in a five-game point streak.
The Flames are 6-3-1 in their last 10 contests entering the fourth stop of a five-game road trip.
--Field Level Media