April 03, 2014

Finding the back of the net was the least of the Tampa Bay Lightning's concerns last season as they rode the league's highest-scoring offense to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

This season's scoring woes have been tough to explain, especially with those issues being prevalent at home lately.

Tampa Bay looks to avoid dropping four straight on its own ice for the first time in more than two years when it meets the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

The Lightning (7-8-2) scored fewer than two goals 11 times during the regular season in 2014-15, but that's already happened eight times after they fell 4-1 to visiting Buffalo on Tuesday.

They have 39 goals - 10 on the power play - through 17 games after scoring 60 through that same amount last year. Making matters worse, Ondrej Palat, who has two goals and five assists after registering a career-high 63 points last season, will miss the next three to five weeks with a left ankle injury suffered in Saturday's 1-0 loss at Minnesota.

''There's no sense in getting frustrated,'' said Steven Stamkos, who has a team-high eight goals after scoring against the Sabres. ''The only guys that are going to get us out of this is ourselves.''

Tampa Bay has dropped seven of nine, scoring once or being shut out in each defeat. That includes scoring one goal each time during a three-game home losing streak.

The Lightning, who haven't lost four straight at home since a five-game skid in 2013, are 2-4-0 at Amalie Arena after finishing with a league-best 32-8-1 mark there last season.

"I don't think our start was where we wanted it to be," said winger Ryan Callahan, who has one point in his last 10. "I thought we built on our game and started to play better and better (in the second period Tuesday), but, at the end of the day, it wasn't what it needed to be."

Tampa Bay could be due for a big night against Calgary (5-10-1), which has allowed at least three goals 12 times while surrendering a league-high 62. It gave up three in back-to-back victories before falling 4-3 to Florida on Tuesday to begin a four-game trip.

Karri Ramo suffered the defeat after winning three of his previous four outings, dropping to 3-5-0 with a 3.60 goals-against average in eight starts. Coach Bob Hartley has named Ramo his starter for the fifth straight contest.

"Looking at the past games from Rams, he's been very good and he's given us a chance to win some games," Hartley told the team's official website. "I think that Rams has gained back his game, gained back his confidence. He's playing well for us."

Hartley is aware the Lightning have had their scoring troubles, but he still maintains they're dangerous even with Palat out. Stamkos doesn't have a point in his last three games against the Flames, including Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory in the last meeting Nov. 6, 2014.

Cedric Paquette scored twice in that matchup.

"They have four lines that come at you with speed," Hartley said. "Victor Hedman is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the league, one of the best skating defensemen in the league. It makes it a good challenge."

Ben Bishop could be in goal for the Lightning after getting Tuesday off. He has a 1.63 GAA over his last five starts, but he's lost them all with Tampa Bay totaling three goals.

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