Lightning coach calls Carolina loss “the hardest one to take this year”

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Losing to the Carolina Hurricanes — the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference — is never a good thing.

Losing to the ‘Canes at home — they’re the East’s worst team on the road — is also quite bad.

So, what about Carolina coming into your rink and blowing you out? Where does that rank?

Just ask Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher, who watched his Lightning lose 5-2 to the ‘Canes last night.

“This is the hardest one to take this year,” Boucher told the Tampa Tribune. “I don’t think we’re being very respectful to teams like Carolina, and we can’t have that. We’re not in a position to think we’re better than any team.”

Tampa’s effort was bad on a number of fronts. Carolina scored five goals after going 14 straight without scoring more than four. Goalie Mathieu Garon allowed three goals on eight shots before getting the hook for Dwayne Roloson, who promptly allowed a goal 68 seconds after coming in. Vincent Lecavalier was minus-3, Pavel Kubina was minus-3 and for the first time in his past seven home games, Steven Stamkos went scoreless.

The latter two expressed dismay at the Lightning’s performance.

“We lost all the battles and it’s unacceptable,” said Kubina. “We didn’t deserve any points tonight.”

“I don’t know what it is,” said Stamkos. “We play a good game against one of the best teams in the league [Vancouver] the other night and then we have this effort.”

Things don’t get much easier for the Bolts in the coming days. They’ve got the surging Caps (6-3-1 over last 10) tonight, then host the Penguins and Bruins.