Expansion mates dating back to 1992, the Lightning and Senators are going to see a lot of each other in the future as they will occupy the same division starting next season. Judging by tonight, pleasantries and fuzzy memories of entering the NHL together are not going to be what's exchanged when they meet up.
"The boys are learning how to win and what it takes. To see the guys laying out to block shots, you can just see the commitment that was there the whole time." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
The Senators got things started on the scoreboard at 14:29 of the first when Daniel Alfredsson scored on assists from Kyle Turris and Chris Phillips. Initially, it looked like the puck might have been tapped in off Alfredsson's high stick but was reviewed and his stick didn't actually make contact with the puck until it was below the crossbar and the play stood.
Ottawa carried the 1-0 advantage into the first intermission.
Labrie's presence on the ice was something of a surprise as he was not listed on the preliminary line-up sheet. Instead, Instead, Benoit Pouliot was a last-minute scratch. Labrie had been scratched in the five games prior to tonight's.
The Bolts took the lead at 4:28 when Vincent Lecavalier scored on a 5-on-3 power play with assists from Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis. For St. Louis, it was his 900th career NHL point, tying him with Tony Amonte for 97th place all-time among NHL scoring leaders. That tie would not survive the end of this game.
That power play was part of what Jefe and El Guapo might consider a plethora of penalties. Three penalties on the Lightning and five on Ottawa for 16 penalty minutes between the 3:50 and 19:21 marks.
In spite of all the special teams play on both sides, the Lightning were able to hold on to the 2-1 lead going into the third period.
Ottawa dominated play in the period, keeping Tampa Bay from recording a shot for over twelve minutes.
"The big thing on the bench was to keep competing hard and battling." - Cooper
Benefiting from yet another penalty, the Lightning cashed in on the power play at 14:56 with Steven Stamkos scoring what would turn out to be the game winner on assists from Lecavalier and St. Louis.
At 17:52, it looked like Ottawa had tied it again, but this time it was waved off as being scored off a high stick, a ruling which was upheld after review.
The Lightning held off the Senators over the last couple minutes which were quite chippy. In fact, the Lightning's Eric Brewer and Ottawa's Chris Neil were each assessed minor penalties for roughing at the 20:00 mark.
"It was a great feeling. Big two points for our team. First game in this building as a part of the Lightning so I wanted to get a big win for the fans and it was nice that it was against my old team." - Bishop
- Stat of the night? With Labrie's goal tonight, seven different players have tallied their first NHL career goals with the Lightning this season.
- Tonight was the third and final match-up between Ottawa and the Lightning this season, with Tampa Bay taking the season series 2-1.
- The Bolts are 5-0-1 in their last six home games and haven't lost a home game in regulation since March 14.
- Defenseman Mark Barberio made his NHL debut for the Lightning.
- Now in 97th place on the NHL's list of all-time scoring leaders with 901 points, St. Louis finds himself seven points behind Scott Stevens for 96th.
- Much was made of rookie Cory Conacher's return to Tampa Bay for the first time since being traded to Ottawa in exchange for goalie Ben Bishop at the trade deadline. Conacher was held off the score sheet while registering 15:46 of ice time.
- The Lightning honored Nicole Johnson as the 35th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Johnson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org). Johnson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 19, when she was advised to drop out of college and return home to live a calmer life. She was told to choose a stress-free career and to never have children, but she decided to prove them wrong. She went on to earn two post graduate degrees and won Miss America in 1999 and also had a healthy child. She now serves as a board member for the JDRF and speaks to civic groups, visits schools and shares her inspiring story at local functions. Over the past 12 years she's helped raise more than $26 million for diabetes research and programs. Johnson participates in the Students with Diabetes Program at USF, assisting both adults and youth, providing insightful information that could help each individual manage their respective situations.