Even though winning on the road has proved a difficult task for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, the goals continue to pour in for Steven Stamkos no matter where the team plays.
Stamkos scored his league-leading 28th goal of the season to cut a third-period deficit in half, but in a hard-fought losing effort as the Lightning fell 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators Thursday night at Scotiabank Place.
The Lightning forward followed up on Vincent Lecavalier’s backhand attempt and slipped one past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, bringing the Lightning to within one at 8:48 of the final period and ruining the netminder's bid for his first shutout of the season.
Stamkos has now lit the lamp eight times in his past five games for Tampa Bay, which had its three-game winning streak snapped in Tuesday’s 7-3 loss at Toronto.
Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris each scored for Ottawa, winners in four straight.
Zack Smith also had a goal for the Senators, as did Daniel Alfredsson, who added two assists.
Earlier in the day, Alfredsson and Spezza were among four Senators players elected by fans to participate in the All-Star game Jan. 29 in Ottawa. Defenseman Erik Karlsson led all vote-getters, and forward Milan Michalek was also chosen.
Spezza, set to make his second career All-Star appearance at the end of the month, grabbed an early lead for the Senators after putting back a rebound past Dwayne Roloson at 10:36 to open the scoring in the first period.
Roloson made 20 saves for the Lightning, which have now suffered defeats in each of its past four games played on the road.
“They did a good job at throwing pucks towards the net, but I thought we needed to defend that better,” Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. “You know, we had a good push back once they got a little of their momentum and did a lot of good things around their net.”
Tampa Bay had several scoring chances throughout the first 20 minutes, but Anderson came up with several big saves to help preserve Ottawa’s first-period lead.
He snuffed out one shot from Stamkos in the opening frame, then stopped a one-timer by Martin St. Louis from point-blank range. Anderson denied Stamkos a second time in the game, this time from in close, and thwarted his cross-ice pass intended for St. Louis, who couldn’t convert a backhand attempt early on in the middle frame.
Tampa Bay outshot Ottawa 36-24 in the game, which proved to be a welcomed change after recording 18 fewer shots than Toronto just two nights earlier.
“We had to play our game,” Bolts forward Nate Thompson said. “The other night we didn’t do anything successful, so I thought tonight we had to come in and be successful getting in their end and shooting the puck.”
Alfredsson set up Turris’ tip-in from in front at 17:07 of the second that doubled the Ottawa lead, putting the Senators up 2-0.
St. Louis nearly broke Anderson from the side of the net for Tampa Bay’s first goal, but his shot hit off the crossbar and fell just in front of the goal line, as he failed to record a point for the first time in his last eight games, including six in a row since returning from facial and nasal fractures.
Minutes later, Dana Tyrell had an additional opportunity to tie, but also hit the crossbar from the top of the crease.
Stamkos finally got the Bolts on the board with approximately 11 minutes to play in regulation, but Smith added an insurance tally at 16:34, just two and a half minutes before Alfredsson’s 13th of the season into an empty net capped the scoring.
Tampa Bay, already without defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman and forwards Ryan Malone and Ryan Shannon, had another setback dealing with injuries on Thursday, as both Adam Hall and JT Wyman exited the game early and did not return.
“I think we have to suck it up,” Lightning forward Blair Jones said of the injuries. “There’s nothing you can really do and you can’t really dwell on it. Everyone has to step it up.”
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