Looking to overcome a four-goal deficit, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s young stars performed more like seasoned veterans on Saturday afternoon rather than first-year players with just a few NHL games under their belts.
Rookie Tyler Johnson scored twice and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins made 19 saves on 20 shots against, while also providing a calming presence and helping the Bolts institute a furious third-period rally before ultimately falling to the Ottawa Senators 5-3 at Scotiabank Place.
“We came out hard the first 10 minutes, but then we made some mental mistakes in the second half of that period and that cost us,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said.
Tampa Bay fell behind 4-0 in the first period as Mathieu Garon allowed three goals on 11 shots and was chased from net when Guillaume Latendresse made it 3-0 after wristing one into an open cage from a sharp angle.
Desjardins, though, came into the game and seemed to settle things down, as he made a fantastic pair of saves in the opening period’s waning minutes, first denying a shorthanded breakaway try before coming up with another huge save on a second follow-up attempt.
Alfredsson eventually beat the young netminder with a rebound just 10 seconds prior to the end of the period while on the power play to extend Ottawa’s lead to 4-0.
It would be the only blemish of the afternoon for Desjardins, who then turned back Alfredsson in the third period from close range.
The display seemed to rub off on his teammates and spark some fight, as Johnson scored twice in a span of 2:16 to cut the deficit to two with approximately six minutes remaining in regulation.
Johnson first got the Lightning on the board at 11:37 of the third with a tip-in between his legs off a feed from Eric Brewer.
He then trimmed the Ottawa lead in half just moments later with his second of the game that made it 4-2 after Matt Carle worked hard to keep the play alive after initially being stopped on a wrist shot from in close.
Teddy Purcell had the other goal for the Lightning, which lost for the second straight game.
Purcell made it 4-3 at 18:01 to bring Tampa Bay within one, but Alfredsson’s second of the game, this time into an empty net with Desjardins off for the extra attacker, put the Senators back up by two to cap the scoring and seal the win.
Jakob Silfverberg and Eric Gryba also scored for Ottawa, which rebounded from a previous loss and has now won four of its past five.
Silfverberg gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead at 12:49 of the first period after tipping home a pass by defenseman Marc Methot that got past Garon to open the scoring.
Gryba then doubled the lead just 1:40 later after one-timing a slap shot from the point off a feed from Kyle Turris to give the Senators a 2-0 advantage.
Ottawa tacked on two more prior to the conclusion of the first stanza, and that is how things stood until Tampa Bay scored three times in a span of less than seven minutes in the third before Alfredsson’s second put the comeback effort out of reach.
Robin Lehner made 29 saves in the victory for the Senators.