Sens smother Lightning, 5-2

Reaching the postseason is looking less likely for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have now dropped six of their last seven games following Thursday night’s 5-2 loss to Ottawa.

The Ottawa Senators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.

“That’s back-to-back disappointing losses for us. There isn’t any panic in our room, but it’s time to bear down and start picking up points every night again.” - Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Wideman, after Tuesday’s loss to the Florida Panthers

That was the mindset of the Senators, a team almost certainly destined for the postseason at this point. They held onto this thought coming into tonight’s game against the Lightning, a team trying to find their bearings after the All-Star break, bearings they struggled to find at all during the first half of the season. As such, the Lightning are watching their postseason hopes fade as the regular season dwindles to the final 30 games.

Tonight, a defensive first period yielded no score with Ottawa outshooting Tampa Bay 7-5. The Senators registered the first five shots of the game with the Lightning not getting their first until the 8:39 mark.

The Lightning actually took the initial lead when Tyler Johnson scored a second-effort goal at 3:39, getting an assist from Nikita Kucherov. That goal seemed to ignite the Senators and they responded with an intense offensive surge. The pressure paid off at 6:33 when Mark Stone tied the game, with assists going to Zack Smith and Cody Ceci.

They took the lead at 11:03 on a power play goal by Kyle Turris, a shot that Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy got a glove on but couldn’t grab. Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson picked up assists on the play. The Senators carried the 2-1 lead into the third period.

They increased their lead on another power play goal, this one coming from Hoffman, assisted by Turris and Stone at 2:53. The Lightning drew within one at 7:46, thanks to Brayden Point scoring with helpers coming from Brian Boyle and Ondrej Palat.

Less than two minutes later, Ottawa stretched the lead back to two on a goal from Stone, who was assisted by Karlsson and Derick Brassard. Chris Kelly capped the scoring, thanks to an assist from Karlsson, on an empty net goal with 24.4 remaining, making the final score 5-2.

The loss, their sixth in the last seven games (two of them coming in overtime), drops the Lightning to 22-24-6 (12-10-2 at home) and still eight points (at press time) out of a playoff spot with just 30 games remaining on the regular season schedule.

The Lightning’s current homestand continues Saturday when they host the pacific-leading Anaheim Ducks.