Tortorella fuming after T.B. loss

DEAN MCNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

The Tampa Bay Lightning is headed for an embarrassing statistic if its present slide -- six losses in the past seven games -- keeps up.

The club could become the first NHL team since the 1995-96 New Jersey Devils to miss the playoffs the season after winning the Stanley Cup.

And that is a prospect that had Lightning coach John Tortorella fuming last night after his team dropped a 5-1 decision to the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

"We just don't have any confidence," Tortorella said. "After the third (Leafs) goal we just gave up."

Although he wouldn't name anyone in particular Tortorella said that looking around the Lightning dressing room he still saw lots of talent, but there was no spark.

When asked how the team could have gone from champs to chumps in such a short period of time, he glared at the questioner.

"Next question, please," Tortorella said.

With its loss and a win by the Montreal Canadiens, the Lightning dropped to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just 70 points.

Tortorella said as a coach all he can do is keep reminding the team that it can bounce back.

"We just have to keep pushing," he said.

When pressed to explain the team's lackluster play in the past seven games, Tortorella started to explain how a lack of confidence can eat away at a team, but then he stopped suddenly when questioned further about what the team was doing wrong.

"You guys should just watch the game," he said before moving away from the press conference.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa's leading scorer during its Stanley Cup run, had a golden opportunity to tie the game early in the third period -- with the score just 2-1 -- but the puck bounced up on edge, causing him to miss.

"That's just the sort of thing that has been happening since the (Olympic) break," he said.

St. Louis said the only way out of the team's prolonged slump is for everybody -- not just him and stars such as Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards -- to step up their play.

"Obviously everybody has to be better, at every position," he said.


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