Game 76: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Ottawa Senators

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2.

A comeback? Maybe. With two straight wins, it's easy to get excited about the Lightning again. Comeback or not, the reality is that when the Lightning leaders show up, this team figures out how to win.

"The top guys who are supposed to produce are producing," said Boucher afterwards.

With two goals from Martin St. Louis, and an empty netted goal from Steven Stamkos (and totaling 8 shots on goal), tonight's win was clearly driven by the leaders.

Dominic Moore, who had the other two goals, said the strength in tonight's game was a return to the usual work ethic. "That's the way we've won all season long--battling, and playing with a fighting mentality."

We had hoped that tonight would be the clincher, but the Carolina Hurricane's shootout win against the Washington Capitals means that the Lightning are still in need of two more points in order to make it into the playoffs.

Unlike the last time the Lightning faced the Sens at home, the Bolts started the game quickly, and showed up to match the effort from Ottawa. The Senators were able to get some play in the Lightning defensive zone, but the Lightning put up a strong defensive effort to keep Ottawa.

The first period ended scoreless for both teams.

St. Louis found the puck in a scrum in front of the Curtis McElhinney to open the scoring three minutes into the second period, assisted by Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne.

The Lightning took the surge off of the goal, continuing the effort with a breakaway attempt from Stamkos. The breakaway was denied, but the Bolts raised the score to two when Marc-Andre Bergeron took the shot, which was initially covered by McElhinney's glove. With the lack of a whistle, Moore fought for the puck and pushed it over the line, giving the Bolts the two point lead.

Still in the second, the Lightning killed off two penalty kills, with consecutive penalties to Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman.

Five minutes into the third, Gagne fed the puck to St. Louis, who scored raised the score to 3-0. FIve minutes later, Jason Spezza finally found the net for the Sens.

After another goal from Moore, the Lightning were given a four minute power play opportunity after Chris Neil was given a plethora of penalties (elbowing, roughing, fighting, misconduct). True to form, the Lightning missed the power play opportunity, and added to their stash of shorthanded goals when Milan Michalek scored a second goal for Ottawa.

Stamkos finished the game with the empty netter, giving the Lightning the 5-2 win and an overall confidence boost.

Up Next: The Tampa Bay Lightning (41-24-11) will play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, March 31 at 7:30 PM. Game thread opens at 7:00, so feel free to drop by!

Other Recaps:

Senators vs Lightning coverage [SB Nation]

Senators vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]

Silver Seven [SB Nation]