OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators may have threatened in the final minute of play, but in the end the Tampa Bay Lightning secured points in their seventh straight game for the first time this year with Thursday's 5-4 victory at Canadian Tire Centre.
"We keep getting two points, so these wins are picture-perfect to me," head coach Jon Cooper said. "You can look at it however you like, but we have two more points than we did two and a half hours ago."
It also lifted the Lightning to their fifth consecutive victory during a crucial juncture in their campaign. In those five wins, 13 different Bolts have recorded a goal, as the team is seeing balance spread among the lines.
"You can't rely on the same guys day-in and day-out," Cooper said. "We keep getting goals from different players and we've buckled down on defense when we've needed to."
The Lightning owned three separate leads through the first two periods, but the Senators evened the score on each occasion. Back-to-back goals in the third period from Eric Brewer and Ryan Callahan gave the Bolts a two-goal cushion, which Ottawa attempted to match again. The Senators fell short of tying the game late, despite being 6-on-4 with a power play to end the game.
"We held them to 11 shots in the third and got the two goals we needed," Cooper said. "You have to give credit to [Ben] Bishop in the third. You need your goalie to make the big saves and that's what he did in the end."
The Lighting took an early lead when Teddy Purcell scored on his first shot of the contest 23 seconds in. Purcell, who was moved up to the top line, found instant chemistry with Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson. It was Purcell's first goal after a 19 game drought.
"I felt this was coming for me," Purcell said. "It's always tough when the chances are coming for you and you don't score, but you have to remain positive. When you see one go in it keeps momentum going for you in the right direction."
Midway through the first, Clarke MacArthur scored the Senators' first tally shorthanded to even the game at one. Purcell notched his second goal of the period less than two minutes later to re-gain the lead. Victor Hedman fed the pass to Purcell in front of Robin Lehner's cage for the wrister at 12:38.
Then a barrage of penalties on both sides, which totaled seven by the end of the period, caused the Lightning to lose focus and led to another game-tying goal from the Senators.
Erik Karlsson was credited with his first of the evening, when he scored immediately following a face-off win by Jason Spezza with seven minutes to go in the first
"It took the flow out of the game," Purcell said. "We had to do a better job of staying out of the box after the first period."
The two clubs exchanged goals again by the end of 40 minutes of play. Valtteri Filppula tied a career-best for goals with his 23rd of the season on the power play at 5:43, while Ales Hemsky notched a highlight reel goal to knot things at three with 2:28 remaining in the second. Hemsky put the puck behind him and through his legs to beat Radko Gudas and then made a nice move in front of the crease to put the puck past Ben Bishop.
Brewer's first goal of the season, followed by Callahan's eventual game-winner, moved Tampa Bay ahead by two with eight minutes remaining in the game, but Milan Michalek made it 5-4 at 17:08. Although the Senators put the extra attacker on the ice for a 6-on-4 advantage on a power play with 55.1 seconds left, Bishop stood tall to secure the victory.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay heads to Pittsburgh tonight and will have a day in between their matinee game versus the Penguins Saturday. The contest will be the third and final meeting between the two clubs, as the Lightning have lost both prior games, while being outscored 8-4. After closing out their three-game road swing against the Pens, the Bolts return to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for games against the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders Monday and Thursday.