Lightning end the road portion of their season with a 7-4 loss to the Senators
For the 22nd time this season, the Lightning taste defeat on the road.
The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times on the power play, yet it was not nearly enough as the Ottawa Senators had seven different players find the back of the net in their 7-4 win on Saturday night. Brian Elliott, in what could be his last game as a member of the Lightning, made 33 saves on 39 shots against the team he broke into the league with back in the 2007-08 season.
Alex Killorn, Brandon Hagel and Victor Hedman had the power play goals while Brayden Point scored his 49th goal of the season in the third period to bring the Lightning within a goal early in the third period.
With Tanner Jeannot out due to injury and Mikhail Sergachev back in Tampa as he awaits the birth of his first child, the roster looked a little different. We had speculated that the Lightning might go with a player short so they could use an emergency recall, but it seems they're prepared to roll with the roster as it is over the last week of the season.
After two games where, let's face it, the Lightning looked tired, it was more of the same in the first period. While a few players had a little jump to their step (looking at you Mikey Eyssimont) for most of the first 20 minutes the Senators were the team that had the edge.
They also had the early lead thanks to a friendly carom on a dump in by Alex DeBrincat. The puck shot out at a weird angle right to Erik Brannstrom and he shot it on net quickly. Drake Batherson was in position to tip it home as the Lightning were scrambling to cover.
Trailing just 30 seconds into the game, the Lightning needed a lucky break or a power play. They got the second. After a few failed entries into the zone, they were finally able to get set up and tested Cam Talbot with a few shots. Eventually Steven Stamkos, who had drifted up higher than his normal trigger spot in the circle, wristed one on net. Alex Killorn was there to tip it home and tie the game.
It seemed the Lightning had found their footing after the goal, but a nice drop pass in the neutral zone by Dylan Gambrell crossed up the Tampa Bay coverage a bit and Julien Gauthier had a clean entry and a lane to shoot it. His hard wrister found twine on Elliott's glove side to reestablish the Ottawa lead.
While they wouldn't concede any more goals (and killed off an Ottawa power play rather easily) the Lightning did spend too much of the period chasing the puck. They did limit the danger, allowing only two high-danger chances, but the energy expelled in the defensive zone did lessen their ability to sustain much of an attack. Cam Talbot only had to make five saves all period long.
Drake Batherson (Erik Brannstrom, Alex DeBrincat) 1-0 Senators
Alex Killorn (Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman) Power Play, 1-1
Julien Gauthier (Dylan Gambrell, Jake Sanderson) 2-1 Senators
The Lightning came out as lethargic as they were at the end of the first period and in no time, the Senators made it 3-1. They were driving play for most of the early point of the period and Patrick Brown was able to corral a large rebound from a Mark Kastelic shot and put it past Elliott. All throughout the sequence leading up to the goal the Senators outworked the Lightning.
At even strength the Lightning were generating next to nothing as Ottawa effectively bottled them up in the neutral zone and forced weak dump-ins or wayward passes. Luckily, for the Lightning, the Senators got a little careless and took back-to-back penalties.
The last time the Lightning had a 5-on-3 in this building, old friend Mathieu Joseph scored a shorthanded goal against them. This time it would be the Lightning picking up not one, but two goals to equalize the score. On the first one, it was a good job by the forwards to win a 3-on-2 scrum behind the net. With all three of the Senators on the ice below the goal line, it was a 2-on-0 up front for the Lightning. Kucherov set up Stamkos for a one-timer. The blast went wide, but Brandon Hagel was there to chip the rebound home for his 29th goal of the season.
A mere few seconds later Tampa Bay was back in the offensive zone and the Big Swede uncorked one from the right circle past a screened Cam Talbot. Did the Lightning deserve to be tied at this point? No, but they took the opportunities that were handed to them on special team and converted.
They also caught a break when Tim Stutzle was a fraction of an inch offside right before he beat Elliott with a backhander. The video team caught it, the coaching staff challenged it, and the officials overturned it.
Unfortunately, they could not make it back into the locker room tied. A late penalty by Ian Cole led to a power play for the Senators. Tampa Bay was doing a good job of killing it off until they weren't. DeBrincat was alone down low and managed to sneak one in just barely. The officials reviewed that one as well and concluded it was in the net. Bummer.
Patrick Brown (Mark Kastelic, Artem Zub) 3-1 Senators
Brandon Hagel (Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman) Power Play, 3-2 Senators
Victor Hedman (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos) Power Play, 3-3
Alex DeBrincat (Shane Pinto, Tim Stutzle) Power Play, 4-3 Lightning
When you're not playing well the last thing a team needs is bad luck on top of it. Early in the third period, the Lightning turned the puck over in the neutral zone (no surprise there) but were able to regain control of the puck until Erik Cernak blew a tire in his own zone. Egor Sokolov was there for the loose puck and slid a shot underneath Elliott to make it 5-3 in favor of the Senators.
Still, the Lightning have a knack for keeping games like this close and four minutes later it was Brayden Point who finished off a masterful passing play for his 49th goal of the season. Credit to Michael Eyssimont who picked out Victor Hedman with a nice cross-ice pass for his first point as a member of the Lightning.
Okay, within one goal with nine minutes left, the Lightning should be able to make a nice push and possibly steal at least a point out of this one. Or, they could turn the puck over (again) and watch Mark Kastelic skate in and wrist a shot past Elliott for Ottawa's sixth goal of the night. Yeah, they went with the second option.
The Lightning had a couple of power play goals down the stretch but failed to get a shot on Talbot. Then, with Elliott on the bench (and Victor Hedman in the showers after he picked up a misconduct), Brayden Point somehow missed from point blank range in the final minutes. Claude Giroux added an empty netter and that was all she wrote.
Tampa Bay finished with a losing road record (18-22-1) for the first time since the 2012-13 season. They have two games at home before the real fun starts. Hopefully, the next time we see them in the road whites, they've figured some things out.
Egor Sokolov (unassisted) 5-3 Senators
Brayden Point (Victor Hedman, Michael Eyssimont) 5-4 Senators
Mark Kastelic (Jake Sanderson) 6-4 Senators
Claude Grioux (Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk) Empty Net, 7-4 Senators