TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning managed to overcome a two-goal deficit against the Ottawa Senators by the beginning of the third period, but were never able to re-gain the lead in a 4-3 shootout loss Monday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Unhappy with their play during the first half of the game, the Bolts turned things around as the game progressed, but the slow start cost them, as they picked up one rather than two points in their fifth loss over their past six contests when decided by a shootout.
"We got behind the eight-ball," Steven Stamkos said. "We showed character, like always, coming back and getting the point, but we need to start the game way more intense, especially against desperate teams at home."
"Ottawa hadn't won in six, so they were desperate," head coach Jon Cooper said. "We couldn't find our legs until halfway through the second period and once we did we were rolling, but that was the big disappointment – our start."
The Lightning now have a nine-game point streak, which is their longest streak since the 2003-04 season when they collected points in 18 straight games.
"Naturally we want two," Cooper said. "But at this point we're just taking them."
Erik Karlsson, the NHL's leading defenseman for points, tallied the opening goal of the game at 3:57. Nikita Kucherov, however, responded a minute later for a 1-1 game by the five minute mark of the first. Kucherov, who has only played in one game over the Lightning's past eight, earned his first goal since January 19 (a 14-game scoring drought).
The Senators responded by creating a two-goal cushion in the second period. The first of the pair of goals came from Jason Spezza when he lifted the puck over a sprawled-out Ben Bishop at 8:12. Ottawa added to their lead 44 seconds later after Mark Stone, who was recalled from the Binghamton Senators with Bobby Ryan injured, passed the puck to Kyle Turris. Turris scored on Bishop's glove side for a 3-1 game.
Before the end of the second period, Victor Hedman blasted a slapshot up and over Senators netminder Robin Lehner's glove on the power play to bring the Bolts within one. Valtteri Filppula also registered a helper on Hedman's marker to extend his point streak to nine games (four goals, nine assists). It is also tied for the longest active streak in the NHL (Tyler Seguin).
Tampa Bay then scored their second power-play goal of the night and seventh in five games.
"The power play saved us tonight," Cooper said. "Especially that second one, which was huge. When you're down multiple goals it takes a lot of energy to get back and we came back, but still couldn't get the lead."
Stamkos' marker on the man advantage came at 5:44 of the third period. The goal, which was initially waved off after he batted the puck in with his stick, was overruled, as the referees agreed Stamkos did not swing his stick above the crossbar. A stick over the crossbar would have meant a high-stick, which would negate the goal.
"I thought I waited as long as I could, it felt like forever," Stamkos said. "I was contemplating if I should wait for it or glove it; I waited for it and I was fortunate to get a good piece of it."
The goal locked the game at three and forced overtime.
Despite having 1:57 of power-play time in overtime with Karlsson in the penalty box, the Lightning did not convert on it's seventh man advantage of the game.
"We got a power play in overtime and we need to find a way to convert it there to get two points," Stamkos said.
Neither team scored during the rest of the extra frame leading to a shootout. Spezza scored the lone shootout goal, while Filppula, Kucherov and Stamkos all missed for the Bolts.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay plays at the Times Forum on Thursday versus the New York Islanders before a quick two games on the road. The two clubs have split their previous pair of games, with each contest being decided in a shootout. The Lightning will then play back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings before opening up a six-game homestand next week.