The Tampa Bay Lightning returned home to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night determined to control their playoff destiny by earning points at home.
Unfortunately, the Ottawa Senators would have none of it.
Tampa Bay got 22 saves from goaltender Mathieu Garon, but it wasn’t enough as the Lightning fell 4-0 to the Senators in front of a crowd of 17,488.
The defeat was just Tampa Bay’s second on the season in which it was shut out.
“We were playing against Ken Dryden out there,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “We had more scoring opportunities tonight than we had in the last two games, but it’s been a problem for us scoring against them.”
Jason Spezza notched his fourth career hat trick for Ottawa, which won for just the second time in its past 10 games.
Erik Karlsson had the Senators’ other goal, and Bobby Butler chipped in two assists on the night.
Craig Anderson also stopped all 28 shots faced to improve to 6-1-2 all-time against Tampa Bay, while recording his third career shutout against the Lightning.
“He played real well for us,” Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said. “I thought our team handled the momentum shifts and responded really well. We played pretty consistent from start to finish.”
Tampa Bay, 24-6-6, is now tied with Buffalo for 13th in the Eastern Conference and sits eight points back of Toronto for the final playoff spot.
Karlsson opened the scoring to put Ottawa up 1-0 after firing a shot through a screen that beat Garon just 64 seconds into the first frame.
The defenseman has now scored in two consecutive games.
Ottawa’s victory helped boost its record to 9-3-2 this season in games against Southeast Division opponents.
Spezza’s first of the night made it 2-0 while on the power play after he took a feed from Filip Kuba and one-timed it past Garon with 3:28 left in the second. He then capped the three-goal effort with a shot into the empty net with 1:02 to go in regulation.
Tampa Bay had its fair share of solid scoring chances, including in the first period when it outshot Ottawa 10-7.
Anderson, though, was equal to the task in stopping an additional 11 attempts faced in the middle frame in which shots were even, including a pair of tries from Martin St. Louis.
With the Senators up by a pair of goals, Kyle Turris had a chance to increase the lead midway through the third period with a penalty shot, but his backhand try sailed high over the net to keep the score the same.
Ottawa did end up getting its third goal of the night though, just 61 seconds later after Spezza’s 24th of the year increased the advantage to three. He entered into the slot, deked the goaltender, then skated out wide and wristed one into an open cage at 12:37 of the final period.
“We came out from start to finish and stuck to our game plan,” Anderson said. “We executed, did things right and got rewarded with the result.”