The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped a close decision, 3-1, to the Ottawa Senators in their third pre-season game tonight.
Playing in front of a sold-out Brandt Center in Regina, Saskatchewan, the Lightning sent a predominantly young lineup out on the ice, giving veteran stars Vincent Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and netminder Mike Smith the night off.
Ottawa jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 3:22 into period one when forward Mike Fisher beat Lightning goaltender Antero Nittymaki from the right faceoff circle. The goal was number four for Fisher, tying him for the NHL lead in pre-season goals.
Tampa Bay skated with the man advantage twice in the opening stanza when Zack Smith was called for hooking at 8:33 and then Chris Kelly was sent off for holding at 11:12. The Lightning were unable to capitalize on their power play opportunities.
Tampa Bay tied the game 1-1, at 5:08 of the second period as Steve Downie fed the puck to 2009 first round draft selection Carter Ashton, parked in front of the Senator net. Ashton redirected the puck past Elliott for his first NHL goal. Defensemen Matt Walker, who began the break-out with a pass to Downie, also received credit for an assist on the goal, his first point as a member of the Lightning.
The Senators regained the lead at the 8:00 mark of the period when the puck deflected off a skate and landed on the stick of forward Jason Spezza. Spezza quickly fed Alex Kovalev, who beat Nittymaki to make the score 2-1.
Ottawa had an excellent opportunity to extend their lead late in the second period when Lightning Kurtis Foster was sent to the penalty box for hooking at 15:13 and 97 seconds later forward Drew Miller also received a hooking minor. The Senators were unable to convert on a 23 second two-man advantage and both penalties expired without consequence.
Carter Ashton’s goal proved to be one of only two official Tampa Bay shots on goal for the stanza as the Lightning were outshot 11-2 for the period. Heading into period three, the shots were heavily in favor of Ottawa, 20- 7, and only some acrobatic netminding by Nittymaki kept the Lightning in the game.
Riku Helenius took over the goaltending duties as the third period began. Nittymaki, in his second pre-season appearance, faced 20 shots while registering 18 saves.
Spezza issued an insurance policy for the Senators when he knocked his own rebound passed Helenius on the stick side at 10:24 of the third period. His goal made the Ottawa advantage 3-1, and that was all the Senators needed as the loss dropped the Lightning pre-season record to 1-1-1.
Bolt Notes: Lightning forward Todd Fedoruk played junior hockey in Regina in 1998-99 for the Regina Pats. Before the game, he enjoyed a reunion with his billet host, Shauna Englehardt…It was a good night for the penalty killers and a bad night for the power plays as Ottawa went 0-8 and Tampa Bay went 0-5 with the extra man…Helenius made 8 saves while facing 9 shots…shots on goal were in favor of Ottawa, 29 – 12.
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