|OTT||0||0||2||(0 - 0)||2|
|TBL||0||2||3||(0 - 0)||5|
With the Carolina Hurricanes battling the Washington Capitals in extra time Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning were forced to wait just a little longer before clinching a playoff berth. It didn’t matter much to Dwayne Roloson, who turned in a playoff-like performance anyway.
Roloson made 31 saves, and Martin St. Louis and Dominic Moore each had two goals for the Lightning, who defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 in front of a home crowd of 16,626 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
On the verge of its first postseason appearance in four years, Tampa Bay had to win and hope the Capitals knocked off the Hurricanes in regulation, but instead were forced to wait at least one more day after Carolina pulled out a 3-2 victory in the shootout.
“We knew what was going on,” Steven Stamkos said. “Carolina is fighting for their lives and they lived to see another day. For us, we just have to keep pushing.”
Stamkos added an empty-net goal with 34 seconds to play, breaking a six-game scoring drought that sealed the win for Tampa Bay, who has won two straight games.
The Lightning earned their 93rd point of the season, which ties the second-highest total in franchise history after it finished the 2003-04 Stanley Cup season with a team-record 106 points. Tampa Bay sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, five points behind Pittsburgh, who will visit the Lightning in the last contest of a four-game season series on Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
“We’re not holding back,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “Individually, we’re pressing, and you want to press as a team too.”
Ottawa entered the contest 6-3-1 in its last 10 games, recently enjoying its role as spoiler following victories over New Jersey and playoff-bound Washington and the New York Rangers.
Jason Spezza spoiled Roloson’s shutout bid following 50 minutes of shutout hockey with Ottawa’s first goal at 10:03 in the third period. Milan Michalek also scored for the Senators, who received 26 saves from Curtis McElhinney. Ottawa had earned points in five of the last six games prior to Tuesday night’s loss.
Roloson was on point throughout the entire night. He first kept Ottawa off the board midway through the opening period with a nice save on the Senators’ Zack Smith, who seemed ready to bury a shot into the net’s open left side. Approximately 12 minutes later, Spezza nearly put the Senators up by one when Roloson lost track of a shot through the goal mouth that fortunately skimmed out the other side to keep the contest scoreless.
“We thought we played well, we just couldn’t bury our chances,” Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston said. “Tonight we felt like we didn’t get the breaks.”
Ottawa, however, refused to go quietly. After Spezza’s goal put Ottawa within two midway through the third, the Senators cut the Tampa Bay lead by one for a second time, as Michalek beat Roloson while shorthanded at 15:15 to make it 4-2. The goal came less than four minutes after Moore’s second of the evening trickled through the legs of McElhinney with 9:33 to play in regulation.
Clinging to a two-goal lead and with Chris Neil called for two penalties and a 10-minute game-misconduct, the Lightning failed to capitalize on a four-minute power play, but the Senators ultimately lost hope when Stamkos’ empty-netter ended it.
“I’ll be honest,” Boucher said. “I put Stamkos out there at the end so hopefully he could get an empty-netter because he deserves a goal.”
“Sometimes, all it takes is a goal like that,” Stamkos added. “I could have used a fluky goal and I think that one made up for some of the chances I missed tonight.”
Coming off of Saturday’s emotional 4-2 win at Carolina, it appeared Tampa Bay used the momentum to come out strong at the start.
St. Louis opened the game’s scoring just 3:15 into the second with the first of three team goals that put Tampa Bay out to a commanding lead nearly six minutes into the final period.
After an initial try from the side of the net ricocheted back behind McElhinney’s skate and off the goal post, St. Louis put back a second attempt inside the near post to put Tampa Bay up 1-0. The Lightning wing now has two points in all but two of his last eight games.
“He was leading the way with his charge and he was flying out there,” Boucher added.
St. Louis’ second of the night and 29th of the season put Tampa Bay up 3-0 before Spezza scored with 9:57 left in the third. Tampa Bay responded with Moore's second of the game 1:24 later and Stamkos’ league-leading 44th of the season which capped the scoring, despite Michalek’s late goal with just under five minutes to play.
“We’re back to our mentality and I think we’re back to what we’ve done all year,” Moore said. “That’s deserving victories and deserving results.”
|Martin St. Louis (28) ASST: Vincent Lecavalier (27), Simon Gagne (17)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Dominic Moore (16) ASST: Marc-Andre Bergeron (5), Dana Tyrell (8)|
2 - 0 TBL
|Martin St. Louis (29) ASST: Simon Gagne (18), Steven Stamkos (44)|
3 - 0 TBL
|Jason Spezza (17) ASST: Colin Greening (6), David Hale (3)|
3 - 1 TBL
|Dominic Moore (17) ASST: Dana Tyrell (9), Brett Clark (22)|
4 - 1 TBL
|SHG - Milan Michalek (17) ASST: Filip Kuba (12), Jason Spezza (31)|
4 - 2 TBL
|EN - Steven Stamkos (44) ASST: Adam Hall (10), Dominic Moore (13)|
5 - 2 TBL
|Nick Foligno Slashing against Steven Stamkos|
|Milan Michalek Tripping against Nate Thompson|
|Mattias Ohlund Roughing against Colin Greening|
|Victor Hedman Delay of game|
|Chris Neil Elbowing against Steve Downie|
|Chris Neil Roughing against Steve Downie|
|Chris Neil Fighting (maj) against Steve Downie|
|Chris Neil Misconduct (10 min) against Steve Downie|
|Steve Downie Fighting (maj) against Chris Neil|
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