TAMPA – Thursday's 4-3 shootout victory for the Tampa Bay Lightning against division rival the Ottawa Senators may not have been a text book example of how to get a win, but it was enough to brush-off a five-game winless streak at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"It feels great to get the win," Victor Hedman said. "To get our first win at home in 2014 was huge and we need to keep that going. There are a lot of big division games coming up, so we need to keep pushing forward."
Registering just five shots on goal in the final 20 minutes of play, the Bolts were guilty of playing too conservatively, which helped the Senators force overtime, a shootout and gain a point.
"We sat back on the lead – something we shouldn't do," Tyler Johnson said. "Then they buried a fluky goal and that's what happens when you're trying to play too much defense. It's good to finally get that win here. It's too bad we gave up a point to them, but we got two so you can't really complain much."
Yet Nikita Kucherov's fancy hands sunk the only shot in the skills competition serving just as a lesson, and not a loss, that the Lightning must manage the game better in the third period.
Late in the opening frame Teddy Purcell was summoned to the penalty box for hooking, but that did not stop Johnson from scoring a shorthanded goal at 14:32 of the first. Senators' forward Bobby Ryan lost the puck in the neutral zone, which Johnson took off with for a breakaway tally on Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. The marker extended Johnson's point streak to four games (one goal, four assists).
"I faked a pass in front of the net and the defenseman cheated a little bit, so I decided to shoot short side and lucky for me it went it," Johnson said.
Just 40 seconds later, the Senators took advantage of the power play though, as Ottawa captain Jason Spezza took the initial shot on Ben Bishop, but the puck bounced off his pads and onto Erik Karlsson's stick. Karlsson took a shot that bounced off of Bishop's glove and into his cage for a tie game at 15:12 of the opening frame.
The Lightning re-gained the lead three and a half minutes into the second period compliments of B.J. Crombeen, who scored his second goal of the season. Hedman wound up from the top of the left point and Crombeen managed to redirect it in behind Anderson for a 2-1 score in favor of the Bolts.
Again the Senators evened the score for their second power-play goal of the evening. With 10 seconds left on Purcell's second minor of the game, Clarke MacArthur went in deep and knotted the game at two on Bishop five-hole as Spezza and Ryan registered multi-point games with their second assists of the contest.
Then with his point streak on the line, Martin St. Louis chased down the puck before it went out of the offensive zone and fed a spot-on pass to Ondrej Palat. Palat was parked next to Anderson stick side and tipped-in St. Louis' pass for a 3-2 advantage at 5:31 of the final period. St. Louis is now riding a nine-game point streak (eight goals, five assists), which is currently the longest active streak in the NHL. He is also two helpers shy of 600 in his career.
"Marty had the puck at the top of the circle and he passed to me," Palat said. "It was an awesome pass and I had an open net, so it was an easy shot for me."
Deep into the final minutes of play, Zack Smith fell while stickhandling the puck and Chris Neil fluttered a shot toward Bishop, which deflected off a stick and past Bishop for the third tie of the game to send the game to overtime.
The Lightning registered seven shots on goal to the Senators zero in the extra frame, but were unable to score as Kucherov came away with the win for the Bolts in the shootout.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay gets back in action against the Western Conference's Colorado Avalanche for the first time this season Saturday evening. The Lightning then embark on a four-game road trip that features contests against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Senators, Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild.