The Lightning's home losing streak is over! A bizarre skid that extends back to before Christmas that got to five games, each decided by a single goal, died a tough death, coming down to goaltender Ben Bishop having to fight off the last Ottawa shooter to finally finish things off.
"It feels great. (To) get our first win of 2014 and we have to keep that going, we have a lot of big games coming up." - Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman
The Lightning came out flying, spending most of the first half of the opening period in the Ottawa zone. Through the first eight and a half minutes, the Lightning outshot the Senators 15-3. Not that shots-on-goal are the definitive stat in terms of dominance, but you've got to feel pretty good about your team's chances any time they're on a pace to outshoot their opponents at a rate of 90 to 18, right?
"I thought we were in control of our own destiny, then we got the lead all of a sudden we changed the way we play." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper
The Bolts took that opening lead while shorthanded at 14:32 when Tyler Johnson broke in alone on Senators goaltender Craig Anderson. Victor Hedman earned the assist.
40 seconds later on the same power play, Ottawa tied the game on a goal by Erik Karlsson with assists from Clarke MacArthur and Jason Spezza
The period ended in a 1-1 tie.
At 3:30 of the second, the Lightning regained the lead on a deflection by B.J. Crombeen. Hedman and Valtteri Filppula picked up helpers on the play.
Ottawa tied it up again with another power play goal, this one coming at 16:57 from MacArthur getting assistance from Spezza and Bobby Ryan.
The 2-2 tie held up into the second intermission.
The Lightning took the lead yet again at the 5:31 of the third with Ondrej Palat scoring on assists from Martin St. Louis and Hedman.
Part of the reason Ottawa was able to survive the early onslaught was avoiding the penalty box. Through the first two periods, they only accrued five penalty minutes, which came from offsetting majors resulting from a fight between Crombeen and Neil at 4:04 of the first. They didn't find themselves shorthanded until 12:56 of the third, an interference penalty on Chris Phillips. The Lightning were unable to convert on the resultant power play. They also held the Bolts off in their only other power play opportunity, which came in the final two minutes of overtime. Converting two of three power plays while going two-for-two on the kill are major factors in Ottawa was able to hang in throughout the game.
At 17:42 of the third, thanks to heavy pressure in the Lightning zone, Ottawa tied the game yet again. This time it was Neil from Zack Smith and Karlsson.
That huge edge the Lightning built in shots-on-goal early in the contest? At the end of sixty minutes, Ottawa had actually claimed a 34-31 edge in that category.
Regulation play and overtime ended with the teams tied at three, leaving the outcome to be settled in the shoot out.
Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov led things off and was the only skater on either side to convert, ending the game 4-3 in favor of the Lightning.
Now that the home losing skid is finally a thing of the past, the only skein the Lightning find themselves concerned with is a two-game overall winning streak, which they will carry into their next game, Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"Yeah, they are huge. Win one, lose one doesn't get you far. We need to win a few in a row obviously. We have a lot of big games before the Olympic break." - Hedman
- Bishop is now 3-0-0 against his former team.
- The last time the Lightning won at home: December 21, 2013, beating Carolina 3-2
- The Lightning are 12-7-5 in one-goal games this season, following a season that saw them post an NHL-worst record of 5-12-4 under those circumstances.
- St. Louis extended his personal points-scored streak to nine games.
- St. Louis now has 963 career points and trails Maurice "Rocket" Richard by two for 85th place on the NHL all-time list.
- He is also just two assists shy of 600 for his career.
- Tyler Johnson is now on a four-game points-scored streak.
- The Lightning honored Anesta Boice as the 24th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Boice, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Junior Achievement and Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. Boice is a champion for Hernando County young people and for financial literacy education. As her own children progressed through the schooling system in Hernando County, she saw that teachers had little time to prepare students for what life was like outside of school. Boice witnessed students leaving school with little understanding on balancing a personal budget, prepare for a job interview or basic financial life skills. With her background in finance she decided to do something about it by offering a Junior Achievement financial literacy program. In addition to chairing the local Junior Achievement Board and participating in numerous fundraising activities, Boice volunteers monthly at schools, teaching economic classes and recruits others to do the same. Thousands of Hernando County residents and students have benefited from Boice's community involvement and exceptional leadership.