The Tampa Bay Lightning ended their five-game road trip with a bit of a clunker as they lost 4-0 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon. Brady Tkachuk recorded a hat trick while Anton Forsberg posted his first career shutout. Brian Elliott stopped 20 of 23 shots in the loss.
Special teams was the deciding factor as the Lightning went 0-for-5 while the Senators converted 2 of their 4 chances with the extra skater. Ottawa played well with the lead, holding the Lightning off and forcing turnovers that blunted the offense.
Prior to the game, the Lightning had to deal with yet another line-up change as Zach Bogosian was a very, very late scratch (he participated in the warm-up skate according to the broadcast). Fredrik Claesson was popped into the rotation in his place.
The first power play of the game goes to the Lightning as Dylan Gambrell is sent off for slashing. With the Ottawa PKer’s scrambling a bit from the get-go the Bolts had a flurry of chances but couldn’t find pay dirt. Shots by Steven Stamkos (blocked), Ondrej Palat (saved) and Victor Hedman (off the post) highlighted a power play that only left the zone on an errent pass by the Bolts.
Jan Rutta took a hit from Brady Tkachuk behind the net that left him a bit winded. For a defense that was shorthanded due to injuries to Erik Cernak and Zach Bogosian, it was a good sign when Rutta stayed on the bench.
At the first TV time out, the play was decidedly in favor of the Bolts. Contrary to the rest of the games on this trip, the Lightning had the better part of the play and it seemed inevitable that they would put one past Anton Forsberg at some point soon. First they would have to kill off a penalty, though. Hedman pinched in and as he tried to kick the puck forward, swept the leg of a Senator.
The penalty was dealt with quite easily, a Tyler Ennis (still in the league!) shot off the rush being the best attempt but despite not scoring with the extra skater the Senators seemed to get back on their game a little. A few minutes later, they took advantage of a face-off win and a bit of a blown coverage in the Bolts zone to take the lead. All alone to Elliott’s left, Josh Norris swept home a one-timer off a nice feed from Drake Batherson.
Josh Norris (Drake Batherson, Thomas Chabot) 1-0 Senators
Following the goal, the Lightning started to regain a little momentum with Alex Killorn sending a puck right in front of the net that Ross Colton deflected just wide. A late period trip by Alex Formenton led to another Bolts power play. Killorn chopped a rebound into the net and gave the least enthusiastic goal celebration in the world. He knew that he had knocked it in with a highstick and replay confirmed the refs decision to wave it off.
Despite the score, that was a really good period for the Bolts. They had the puck in the Ottawa zone for most of the first 20 minutes. According to Natural Stat Trick they dominated scoring chances (13-4) and high-danger chances (5-1) at even strength. If they kept at it, the goals would show up (narrator: they didn’t).
The Lightning started the period on the power play, but a couple of uninspired entry attempts killed off most of it. Mathieu Joseph took a hooking penalty and the Senators capitalized. Despite a couple of acrobatic saves by Elliott (two-pad stack alert!) Brady Tkachuk converted on a loose puck to make it 2-0. The Lightning goaltender was a little upset that Josh Norris had made contact with him prior to the goal, but the refs failed to be convinced by his protest.
Brady Tkachuk (Thomas Chabot, Tim Stutzle) Power Play 2-0 Senators
Brian Elliott was putting in WORK but Brady Tkachuk buries one on the power play. pic.twitter.com/4S2rOKwMNF— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 11, 2021
Things didn’t get better from there. Shortly after the goal Boris Katchouk was sent to the penalty box for boarding and the Senators once again took advantage. After a sustained bout of pressure in the Lightning zone, Chabot hammered a puck from the center of the ice that Tkachuk nicked on the way by for his second goal in two minutes.
Brady Tkachuk (Thomas Chabot, Drake Batherson) Power Play 3-0 Senators
Quite a dismal start to the middle frame. The hockey gods threw a little more sand in the Lightning’s eyes as Ross Colton’s blast from afar rang off the post and stayed out. With more than half the game remaining, the Lightning had plenty of time to mount a comeback, but they would have to stay out of the penalty box.
Converting a power play would help immensely, but that wasn’t in the cards as Ottawa didn’t allow a shot on goal by the Bolts with Chris Tierney off the ice for high-sticking. At least the Lightning picked up their play a bit following the power play as the fourth line tossed some chances on net, forcing Forsberg to make a couple of key saves to keep them off the board.
The special units struggles continued after Palat drew a trip on Batherson. All of that space and quick work with the puck that they displayed on the first couple of opportunities in the first had dissipated and the Senators killed off this one as well. Earlier in the game it seemed inevitable that the Lightning would score, now they struggled just to get a shot on net.
Taking into consideration just the even strength play it was another solid period for the Bolts as they were on the plus side of every underlying stat. Unfortunately for them power play goals count just as much as 5v5 goals and their inability to keep the puck out of their own net down a skater burned them early in the period. This aspect of the game is where it seems they miss Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak the most as they have been dismal of late on the PK. After allowing the 2 goals on 3 opportunities today they have only killed off 7 of 14 shorthanded chances in the month of December. That’s pretty darn bad.
Tampa Bay needed to score early in the period to get back into the game and credit to the Senators for bleeding the clock down by possessing the puck for much of the first five minutes and limiting the Lightning to one-and-done rushes. Any time they did seem to get a little something going, their shots were blocked or went wide. Forsberg did have to make a nice save on a spinning Boris Katchouk shot as well as the follow-up attempt by Riley Nash.
Tampa Bay went on their fifth power play with just under seven minutes to play as Gabriel Fortier fought through the neutral zone and forced Chabot to cheat to slow him down. They continued to struggle to get the puck into the zone and most of the two minutes was spent just trying to set up in the zone. Had this game been in Amalie Arena the boo birds would have serenaded the dismal play.
With four minutes left Coach Cooper felt that it was time to see if the Lightning could be better at 6-on-5 than they were at 5-on-4 as he called Brian Elliott to the bench. They weren’t. A turnover in the Ottawa zone led to Brady Tkachuk flipping the puck into the vacated net as distance. A hat trick for the Ottawa captain and a 4-0 deficit for the Bolts.
Brady Tkachuck (unassisted) Empty Net 4-0 Senators
(no highlights for empty net goals)
Pat Maroon took out the team’s frustration with 2:33 left in the game as he dropped the mitts with Austin Watson. The two twirled around the ice and nudged each other with their fists before heading to the penalty box. Maroon was joined by Corey Perry who had picked up a slashing penalty on the play as well. At least the Lightning killed off that final Ottawa power play.