The Senators usually spend Saturday night's playing following the leader around Scotiabank Place.
But with captain Daniel Alfredsson sidelined with a hip flexor injury, they looked lost.
In a battle of first vs. worst in the Eastern Conference, it was hard to tell the difference where the two teams stood as the Senators dropped an ugly 2-0 decision to the lowly Lightning.
Tampa goalie Johan Holmqvist earned his second straight shutout in as many nights with 25 saves.
Martin St. Louis' goal at 17:22 of the first period turned out to be the winner. Vinny Lecavalier scored into an empty net late in the third.
Alfredsson missed his first game after suffering the injury Thursday in a 5-1 victory over the Hurricanes.
The club hopes he'll be able to play tonight in Philly against the Flyers, but there was no confirmation from the team.
"We're going to have to see how it feels (today)," said Alfredsson, who hasn't skated in two days.
With Alfredsson joining winger Dany Heatley (separated shoulder) on the injury list, Senators coach John Paddock decided to improvise, using Jason Spezza with fellow centre Mike Fisher and Chris Neil.
While Spezza started the night with Randy Robitaille and Dean McAmmond on his wings, it didn't last long. Paddock wasn't only trying to ignite some offence, he wanted to see if he could cause some havoc for the Lightning, but nothing worked for the Senators.
If the Senators are going to succeed without Alfredsson and Heatley, they're going to need a lot better effort than they got against the Bolts.
"It was frustrating at times," said defenceman Wade Redden. "The bounces didn't go our way. We didn't make it as easy on ourselves as we'd like with Heater and Alfie out.
"Without those guys, we've got to work together to create offence."
The Senators had spurts where they had opportunities, but Holmqvist didn't exactly have to make many big stops.
Antoine Vermette, Chris Kelly, Patrick Eaves, Robitaille and McAmmond are going to have to step up their games.
The Senators may have missed Alfredsson and Heatley most on the power play. Ottawa had four chances with the man advantage -- including two in the third period -- but they had a tough time getting shots and sustaining any kind of pressure.
Holmqvist's biggest stop was a glove save on Chris Phillips on a 2-on-1 midway through the second with the Senators short-handed. The Bolts have had their share of goaltending issues this season and the Senators had to do a better job getting to the net.
As for Ottawa goalie Ray Emery, he wasn't exactly forced to come up with any highlight reel stops, either.
It was the Bolts who were coming off a 3-0 victory over the Penguins on Friday in Pittsburgh, but both teams looked like they played the night before.
The Senators flew to Philly immediately after last night's game to open a five-day, three-game road trip that includes stops in Florida (Tuesday) and Tampa (Thursday).