Try as they might, the Tampa Bay Lightning haven't quite yet found the formula for success that led them to an historic season a year ago.
The Lightning will continue to find their groove by hosting the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Puck drop on their third straight game against a Western Conference opponent is at 7 p.m. ET.
After snapping a three-game losing streak with an overtime win in Nashville last Tuesday, the Bolts returned home for a trio of home matches that started with a Thursday night test against the Minnesota Wild.
It didn't unfold as planned.
After leading 1-0 in the first two minutes, Tampa Bay had to battle back from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits before Minnesota's Mats Zuccarello scored the game-winning goal in the third period in a 5-4 win as the Wild claimed their fourth straight victory over the reigning Presidents' Trophy owners.
Once almost unbeatable at home in Amalie Arena -- the Lightning were 32-7-2 in their friendly confines last year -- Tampa Bay holds a 6-5-1 mark through two months this season.
Nine of the next 11 games are at home, perhaps giving the club some hope of finding traction in the standings.
"We need to find ways to win games," said Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "Right now we're finding ways to lose them. It's not something our group is satisfied with at all."
Minnesota showed a propensity to score in bunches and rebound from goals by the home side.
The surging Wild, winners of five straight, potted three markers in under three minutes in the first period, and later scored quickly after opposing goals knotted the game twice.
Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman scored his 100th career goal late in the second period to tie it 3-3, but Victor Rask regained the lead for Minnesota 36 seconds later. And after Alex Killorn evened it 4-4 in the third, Zuccarello notched the game-winner just eight seconds later.
"It was pretty cool. (But) it kind of gets lost," Hedman said of reaching the century plateau in defeat. "It's tough to feel excitement after a game where you come up with nothing, but it means a lot to have them all in this uniform."
San Jose also is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Marcus Sorensen and Logan Couture netted goals as the Sharks came back twice from deficits to force overtime and the shootout session.
But Kevin Labanc, Erik Karlsson and Couture were all denied by Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, and winger Andrei Svechnikov -- the shootout's fifth shooter -- scored to lift Carolina to victory.
The contest in North Carolina kicked off a four-game trip for San Jose (6-6-2 on the road), which also features stops in Sunrise to play the Florida Panthers and in Nashville to face the Predators.
Playing its best hockey of late, San Jose is 11-3-1 in its last 15 games.
"It's a tough road trip," Couture admitted. "If you lose a bunch in a row right now, you're going to fall out of pace in the (Western) Conference because everyone is bunched up. Good to get one (point). Now we're looking to get some more the rest of the road trip."
--Field Level Media
Lightning still searching for groove vs. Sharks