The Lightning continue to take on the persona of the Little Engine that wants to instead of one that does.
There just doesn't seem to be enough steam in its tank to push Tampa Bay up that hill.
For the fifth time this season the Lightning looked to put together a three-game win streak, yet came away with another setback, Wednesday's 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal the latest in a failed attempt to build up momentum despite a 4-1-1 record in the past six games.
Tampa Bay's record in overtime/shootouts this season dropped to 3-10, while Montreal's improved to 11-3.
Tomas Plekanec scored on a two-on-one break with 1:28 left in overtime to give the Canadiens a victory. Only a 33-save effort from goaltender Mike Smith and a well-played third period allowed Tampa Bay to overcome a poor first two periods to earn one point that moved the Lightning into an eighth-place tie with Philadelphia, Atlanta and the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference standings.
"I was really disappointed with the first two periods we played, it was disheartening," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "That was something we stressed all day (Tuesday) and (Wednesday) was not to get complacent. We made a push in the third, outshooting them 13-4 and not really giving them much, and you are going to get those games when you are flat. But when you are .500 (facing) a team a couple points ahead of you, you can't afford to be flat."
But that's exactly what happened in the opening 40 minutes as Montreal held a 28-19 shot advantage after two periods, yet managed to only hold a 1-0 lead on a Brian Gionta rebound goal.
The third period was a complete reversal, as the Lightning found their footing and tied the game on a Kurtis Foster blast from the right point 3:52 into the final period. But that was all the Tampa Bay offense could get past Carey Price.
In overtime, the Canadiens picked up the winner just after a Tampa Bay timeout. Tocchet put three forwards - Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos - in the four-on-four setting. But Stamkos bobbled the puck as he attempted to get a shot off from the left circle, allowing the Canadiens the odd-man break down the ice.
"I don't think it's much of a risk (to go with three forwards), to be honest," said St. Louis, who was manning a point position on the play. "On that play, yeah, it's easy to say after, but the puck is behind the net, it hits a partition to the front, Stammer falls and then away they go. If that puck doesn't hit the partition, we keep the puck and we have three forwards in the offensive zone that probably has them scared with what we might be able to do.
"I've played that (point) position many times and I don't feel like I'm vulnerable in getting beat and I feel I'm fast enough to get back, we just got a bad bounce there."
On Wednesday, that strategy backfired.
"We still get a point out of this one with our third-period effort and our goaltending tonight, it would have been nice to get two," St. Louis said, "but we just have to keep pushing because we know it's going to be a dogfight all the way to the end."