On the night Vincent Lecavalier was honoured for playing his 1,000th game, the Tampa Bay Lightning struck early and then often to hand the Ottawa Senators their first loss of the season, 6-4. Ben Bishop got his first game action in 2 weeks, and didn’t receive the same type of defensive support that Craig Anderson has had in the early part of the season. This was also the best offensive team the Senators have played so far, and it showed that they still have some work to do.
Steven Stamkos led the way with a goal and two assists and Ryan Malone scored twice in the third period to beat the Senators, who got goals from Eric Condra, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris.
Ottawa was in the box early and often in the first period. Milan Michalek was whistled for a relatively weak hooking call just 35 seconds in. Tampa Bay made it count quickly as there was a mad scramble in the crease and the loose puck was lifted top shelf by Matt Carle for the game’s opening goal. Ottawa took three more minors in the first period, two of them of the questionable variety. While Tampa had some offensive zone pressure, they never really threatened in close. The best chance was probably Peter Regin‘s shorthanded breakaway. He tried to go 5 hole on Lindback but was denied. As the perioed wound down Chris Neil and BJ Cromben squared off at centre ice. Both threw a few but Neil landed way more. The first period mercifully came to an end with no more damage, but the Lightning outshot the Senators 15-7 with he 4-0 power play advantage.
Condra tied game at one just over 4 minutes into the period, sprung in alone on a nice pass from Neil. A 4 on 3 power play saw Spezza wrist a shot from the faceoff dot through Anders Lindback. Moments later, Karlsson’s weak shot from the blue line was tipped home by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Stamkos replied seconds later, ptting a rebound past a sprawling Bishop for the third goal in 30 seconds of action. As the game opened up, a dazzling three way passing play between Kaspars Daugavins, Daniel Alfredsson to a trailing Turris who put it in the open cage after Lindback was turned into a pretzel on the play. Hedman wired a slap shot to bring the Lightning back within one, capping a wild second period that saw 6 goals scored and Ottawa escape with a 4-3 lead.
The wheels came off in the third period for the Senators, beginning with a miscommunication between Bishop and Chris Phillips behind the Ottawa net that led to Sami Salo‘s shot being tipped home by Ryan Malone. That goal tied the game 3:39 into the period. Malone scored again just before the 13 minute mark off a fortunate Tampa bounce that deflected off Lecavalier and Sergei Gonchar before finding Malone’s stick and then the empty net. Tom Pyatt scored in the empty net to secure the Lightning 6-4 victory.
- There will be a lot of second guessing about the choice of goaltender in this game from the Senators. I don’t think it would have mattered whether Craig Anderson started or not, the result would have been the same. Ottawa is good enough to win the games they are supposed to win, but they are not an “elite” team yet. Mistakes happen and they will have some rough games. They weren’t going to go 48-0.
- Mark Borowiecki brought a physical presence to the blue line in his season debut. He showed that he is a capable fill-in when needed, but I think Patrick Wiercioch brings more to the team on a nightly basis.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Neil played a very good game, making a great cross-ice feed to set up Condra’s goal that tied the game at 1. He was physical and dominated the fight he had with B.J. Crombeen.
Ottawa returns home to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that is coming in off their second loss in a row, to the Winnipeg Jets, on Friday night.