Game 66: Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 06: Mathieu Garon #32 of the Tampa Bay Lightning levaes the game following a first period injury in the game against the Ottawa Senators at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on March 6, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Tuesday night.

It had been a while since the Lightning played a stinker at home. You hate to say they were due, because that means you kind of expected it. And if there's one thing this team has done, going back to last season even, is raise expectations. So the disappointment felt in a loss stings even more when it comes after the kind of sluggish first period that resulted in so many losses back in December and January.

"We certainly can't be having starts like that, especially with only so many games left. We need to play the full 60 minutes; 40 minutes just isn't good enough" - Lightning forward Tom Pyatt

About five minutes in, starting goaltender Mathieu Garon injured himself while making what looked like a fairly routine save, left the game and did not return. He will be evaluated Wednesday to determine how serious the problem is. Garon was replaced by Dwayne Roloson, who would go on to face 11 shots over the remainder of the period and 30 during the game.

Sergei Gonchar scored his third goal of the season to put Ottawa on the board at 9:38. Colin Greening and Jared Cowen contributed the assists.

With heavy traffic in front of Roloson, Greening doubled the lead at 17:37, scoring with help from Milan Michalek and Filip Kuba.

Less than a minute later, the Senators scored again, this time getting an unassisted goal from Kyle Turris.

On the other end of the ice, Ben Bishop, making his debut with the Senators, had a relatively easy time of it, turning away eight Lightning shots.

The period ended with Ottawa up 3-0.

At 1:24 of the second, the Bolts showed some life when Ryan Shannon scored on assists from Tom Pyatt and Brett Connolly.

The Lightning cut the deficit to one at 7:12 when Tim Wallace beat Bishop with assists from James Wyman and Tom Pyatt.

Newcomer Keith Aulie undoubtedly picked up some new fans in Tampa Bay and boosted the adrenaline level after an impressive fight against Greening following a face-off scrum.

"Aulie did the right thing. He never approached him. You see that play all the time on face-offs." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

However, the momentum the Bolts had built came to a sudden stop when Erik Karlsson scored unassisted at 11:58, ending the second period with Ottawa up 4-2.

Not to be outdone (the Lightning do have an NHL-leading eight wins when behind after two periods, after all), the Lightning trimmed the margin back to one when Steven Stamkos scored a power play goal at 5:41 of the third. Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone pitched in with assists.

Once again, an Ottawa goal dulled the Lightning's momentum, this time when Michalek scored a powerplay goal at with assistance from Daniel Alfredsson and Kuba at 12:12

Michalek scored his second of three goals on the night, and his first of two empty netters, at 18:33. He added one more with seven seconds left to finish the scoring.

The loss snaps a four-game winning streak, a five-game home winning streak and marked only the second loss by more than two goals at home since January 15, both to Ottawa. The Lightning end the season series 0 for 4.

"Last year and this year we can't seem to beat these guys. Different players, different coaches and we still can't beat them." - Boucher

With this loss, the Lightning currently find themselves with 68 points, four out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and six points out of first place in the Southeast division.

"We need to start another streak now. There's a lot of games. We need to get another streak going." - Pyatt

The team will make a quick, one-game road trip to Washington to face the Capitals on Thursday before returning for a seven-game homestand, their longest of the season.

Game notes:

  • Victor Hedman returned after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
  • Bruno Gervais, out with an upper-body injury, missed his first game since December 15th against Calgary. This snapped what had been the third longest games-played streak among Lightning defensemen this season at 34 games. Brett Clark and Eric Brewer have played in all 66 games this season so far.
  • Purcell's career high pooint-scored streak has now reached 10 games. He has six goals and 14 assists over that stretch.
  • Wallace now has goals in two consecutive games after 57 NHL games without one.
  • Stamkos broke his own franchise record with his 29th goal scored at home this season (league-leading 48th overall).
  • Where do these two expansion siblings rank all time? Well, Ottawa is 673-645-115-81 since both teams joined the NHL for the 1992-93 season while the Lightning have posted a record of 581-725-112-94. The Senators are 51-60 in 12 trips to the postseason, losing to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, their only appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Lightning have been to the playoffs six times, going 37-32 and beating Calgary for the Cup in 2004. Head-to-head all-time, the Senators have the edge with a 44-22-2-3 record.
  • The Lightning honored Michael Delancey as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Delancey, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, Pinellas Park National Little League and Pinellas Park Pony Baseball. Delancey served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, when unfortunately with two weeks remaining in his second tour in 2006, he was struck by enemy gunfire. After countless surgeries, Delancey, who was only 21-years-old at the time, lost the ability to move his legs and is now paralyzed from the waist down, limited to a wheelchair. The marine is a Purple Heart recipient for his valor and bravery, which he demonstrated in the battlefield protecting innocent lives while he was overseas serving his country proudly. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush flew to see Delancey while he was in the hospital to present him with the Purple Heart.In January, Delancey joined 30 other injured veterans on a specially outfitted bike, a 21-speed hand crank, and completed a race from Miami to Key West with the finish line at the U.S.S. Mohawk. He also continues to help coach youth football in Pinellas County and mentors elementary school kids. Delancey also travels around from school-to-school to talk to students about tragedies in life and how to overcome them. He has inspired everyone around him and has epitomized what a true American hero means.
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