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Steven Stamkos’s heroics help the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Ottawa Senators, 4-3

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Steven Stamkos scored the shootout winner and Vladislav Namestnikov hit a career-high this evening as Tampa Bay edged by Ottawa.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in a game that was neither pretty nor entirely ugly. It was just—there.

Playing Ottawa is never a pleasant affair. The Senators play a structured and trudging game compared to most teams in the NHL. It’s Guy Boucher’s calling card (Tampa fans are very aware of this) and one that drives even Ottawa fans crazy. Nonetheless, this divisional game pitted two contrasting styles and places in the standings, Tampa first and Ottawa seventh in the division.

I wish there was something interesting to talk about for the first period, but it was an extremely boring affair. The only goal was due to an unfortunate bounce from a clearing attempt by Dan Girardi. Yes, Girardi has not aged into a great defenseman and his advanced metrics this season aren’t sterling, but he has been markedly better than many of us predicted heading into this season.

Watching the replay, Girardi makes an instinctual play by attempting to throw the puck towards the corner (which damn near every defenseman would try to make). The attempt bounces off of Braydon Coburn and past Vasilevskiy. This is one of those “shit happens” plays. Sure, we can make the argument he should have looked up before moving the puck (especially since there wasn’t an Ottawa player anywhere near him), but Girardi normally tosses it in the corner in situations like that. So please, put down the pitchforks and stop rage tweeting about the play.

Ottawa got to play their style of game in the first and got a flukey goal as a reward. Tampa Bay had a difficult time getting behind Ottawa’s defense during the first period and wasn’t able to sustain much offensive pressure. They still out possessed Ottawa though.

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Entering the second period I tweeted this out.

Apparently, the Lightning coaching staff thought the same thing because Karlsson was nowhere near as much of a factor as he was during the first 20 minutes. It took the Lightning a few minutes to get going, but once the Point-Palat-Johnson line finally got some offensive pressure the wheels started churning for the Bolts.

They finally broke through when Nikita Kucherov’s wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle deflected off Tyler Johnson and between Craig Anderson’s legs.

Unfortunately, a rare mistake by Ondrej Palat led to Ottawa taking the lead once again. Derrick Brassard took the puck down the right wing before saucing a pass past Jake Dotchin (I’ll get to him later) and to a streaking Cody Ceci. Palat didn’t recognize Ceci’s positioning quick enough and was unable to cover him properly. Result—backhand birthday goal for Ceci.

Outside of the Ceci goal, Ottawa had hardly any kind of offensive pressure. Tampa’s forecheck and speed started creating holes in the Senators defense which then started the defensive scrambling of Ottawa.

Alex Killorn intercepted a pass near the Senators blueline and then pushed play into the offensive zone. He had Cory Conacher and Yanni Gourde streaking towards the net. Killorn shot high and off the glass which bounced directly to Conacher. Conacher swatted at the puck which caused it to trickle behind Anderson where Gourde tapped it by to tie the game a little over a minute after Ceci gave the Senators the lead.

Tampa continued their offensive dominance but couldn’t convert on a late power-play (which was a shooting gallery for the Lightning). After 40 minutes possession was firmly in Tampa’s favor.

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Entering the third it felt as though Tampa was on the verge of breaking out and dominating Ottawa. The Senators had other plans in store.

Ottawa came out much more aggressively to start the third and began to maintain more offensive zone time. This resulted in a slashing penalty on Braydon Coburn and the ugly penalty kill reared its ugly head once again. I mentioned in the embedded tweet that Tampa needed to be more aggressive at attacking Karlsson. They did that in the second period. On the penalty kill? They didn’t clog the shooting lane well enough and the Senators captain wrist shot from the point bounced in after being deflected by Brassard.

On one hand, it’s Erik Karlsson. He’s arguably the best defenseman in the NHL and sometimes you just get beat. The penalty kill could’ve done a little more, but Karlsson creating a scoring chance from there is nothing out of the ordinary.

Tampa refused to back down though. They continued to attack while also pushing the Senators offensive pressure towards the outside of the defensive zone. It finally paid off midway through the third as Vladislav Namestnikov scored off a rebound. Kucherov drove the puck behind the net and then fed a pass to Victor Hedman who blasted it on net. Anderson made the initial save, but was unable to recover to stop Namestnikov from scoring. The goal was Namestnikov’s 15th on the season—a career-high (GIVE LOVE TO THE RUSSIAN BIEBER).

The second half of the third period saw both teams exchange some chances but despite some scares for the goaltenders, regulation didn’t solve anything.

You know what’s next folks.

Before that though. Possession is not pretty—for Ottawa.

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Overtime...

SHOTS

SHOTS

SHOTS

HOW MANY CHANCES DO YOU GUYS NEED FROM THE SLOT?!

Oh god...Karlsson has the puck!

Ok...Point and Namestnikov got it back.

JOHNSON JUST SHOT A LITTLE TOO HIGH!

Wait...too many men? Power-play for Tampa Bay with 1:08 left...let’s do this.

Come on guys.

Karlsson just flattens Namestnikov, but we maintain possession.

Anderson makes a save with 11.2 seconds left.

Timeout Ottawa.

Thought—Ok, win the faceoff then blast it from the point. Don’t dilly dally. Just shoot the puck.

KUCH SHOOTS! Anderson saves. NAMESTNIKOV HAS IT IN THE SLOT! He mishandles the puck. KUCH CAN ONE TIME IT FOR THE WIN! The buzzer sounds before the puck goes in.

Ugh...time for the shootout.

Point’s first—score

Ottawa’s Pyatt—no goal

Kucherov can force Ottawa into a hard spot—whiffs on the shot

Ottawa’s Duchene—no goal

Stamkos can win it—O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won.

[Everybody references Dead Poet’s Society, but how many have seen it? —Acha]

Should’ve never gotten to that point, but that’s the style Ottawa plays, unfortunately.

The Good

Attacking Mentality

It took the Lightning a period to get their collective act together, but once they started moving their legs they began to force the Senators into a variety of bad positions.

The second period showcased this the most as Tampa absolutely dominated Ottawa. The small lapses by Tampa Bay in the defensive zone aside, this was a game the Senators had no business being in. Craig Anderson played well and if it wasn’t for him this game could’ve gotten out of hand quickly for Ottawa.

Additionally, Ottawa made life even more difficult by blocking 20 (yes, 20) shots—Tampa blocked 3.

Namestnikov hits a career-best

Vladislav Namestnikov’s tying goal midway through the third period was his 15th of the season, which is now a career best for him. His previous career high was 14. He’s on pace for 34 goals and 72 points this year.

Long live the Russian Bieber.

The Bad

Defensive Breakdowns

It didn’t happen often, but it seemed like everytime Tampa did have a bad defensive breakdown the Senators capitalized on it.

I’ve already talked about Girardi. Just let it go.

Dotchin, on the other hand, had a very bad night. I stopped counting at three turnovers, and he looked like he was a step behind everything this evening. He wasn’t the only defender having issues, but he was noticeable tonight for all the wrong reasons. [Perhaps still suffering the flu? — Acha]

The penalty kill has been a bit of a mess the past few games and it looked like it had shaken the poor play that was plaguing it after killing a 5-on-3 in the first period.

Unfortunately, Brassard’s power-play goal nixed that, but like I stated before; Karlsson makes those plays often. It was the only time the penalty kill faltered this evening and if it wasn’t for Namestnikov’s goal it would’ve been a much bigger talking point.

The Whatever

Ottawa’s ‘Structure’

I’m sorry Ottawa fans. This has nothing to do with you guys or your players, but your team is horrendously boring to watch. Their structure saps any kind of pace the game has and often times results in teams just chipping it past you and attempting to get behind your defense.

Tampa was able to open the game up a bit and inject some speed into a dull affair during the second, third, and overtime periods; but if Ottawa doesn’t get some breaks and Anderson doesn’t have a good game this could’ve been gotten ugly.

The overtime was 85% in the Senators zone. Tampa was shelling them. I don’t know how your owner thinks this is a playoff team. You guys deserve better than this.

Highlights