The Tampa Bay Lightning are seemingly becoming experts at playing the role of spoiler.
Three nights after preventing the Carolina Hurricanes from registering their first win of the season in front of its own home crowd, the Bolts handed the Ottawa Senators its first loss of the year Friday night following a 6-4 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tom Pyatt sealed the win for the Lightning with an empty-net tally at 19:18 of the third.
“I thought it was a good game for us tonight,” Hedman said. “We showed great character. Not a lot of lucky goals, but just putting pucks on net and getting rebounds.”
Erik Condra, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris each had goals for Ottawa, which lost for the first time in four games after starting the season with victories in each of its first three games.
The Senators concluded the second half of a back-to-back set after recording a 3-1 victory on Thursday night at Florida, a game in which goaltender Craig Anderson made 25 saves.
With the team back in action on consecutive nights, Ben Bishop started in net on Friday and turned aside 25 of 30 shots.
Ottawa held leads of 3-1 and 4-2 throughout the game, but couldn’t hold off Tampa Bay late in the final period.
“We weren’t consistent from start to finish,” Senators head coach Paul MacLean said. “They flat outplayed us.”
Perhaps that was evident early on, when Carle opened the scoring just 1:09 into the game when he poked a loose puck free from the crease and past Bishop for an early 1-0 lead.
Condra then drew Ottawa even when he beat Lightning netminder Anders Lindback with a wrist shot at 4:11 after taking a feed from Chris Neil.
Lindback finished the game with 32 saves to earn his second win in three starts since joining the Lightning.
A goal from Spezza at 14:30 of the second, while on the power play, sparked not only the Senators, giving them a 2-1 lead, but also a scoring frenzy in which the teams combined for five goals in the final 5:30 of the second period.
Karlsson made it 3-1 when his slap shot from the point found its way through traffic and into the back of the net, but that goal was countered when Stamkos cut the deficit back to one with his second of the year just 15 seconds later.
Two and a half minutes later, at the 17:30 mark, Turris put Ottawa back up by a pair, but much like before, that also quickly dwindled after Hedman brought the score to 4-3 at 18:10 before the sides retreated in for the intermission.
“Our first period wasn’t the best effort, and our second I thought we got it going a little bit,” Turris said. “But in the third, that wasn’t the way we wanted things to go.”
Malone knotted things at four apiece to open the final frame, the first tally of what would be three goals in the final period for Tampa Bay. Malone tipped in Sami Salo’s shot from the point past Bishop at 3:39, and nearly completed the hat trick later in the period, but was stopped with Bishop’s pad.
Tampa Bay, now 3-1-0, has scored a league-best 11 goals in the third period.
Salo finished the night with a game-high plus-five rating, and also had two assists throughout the contest.
Like Salo, Martin St. Louis added two helpers, as did Cory Conacher, who now has registered points in each of his first four career NHL games.
Malone’s second of the night re-established the one-goal lead at 12:58, and Pyatt ended it when his empty-net tally found the back of the net with just 42 seconds to play in regulation.
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