Lightning must deal with pesky Senators
Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 7:30 PM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
SENATORS (29-37-10) at LIGHTNING (40-24-11)
TV -- SNET-E (HD), SUN (HD)
Last 10 -- Ottawa 6-3-1; Tampa Bay 3-3-4
Season series -- Ottawa leads the season series against the Lightning with a pair of wins, the latest coming in overtime on March 19.
Big Story -- Tampa Bay is trying to get itself moving in the right direction before the playoffs and the Lightning turned that way Saturday with a win over Carolina. They'll look to build on that against the Senators, who have been playing some of their best hockey of the season this month, but are coming off a 5-4 shootout loss at Atlanta.
Senators -- Getting the first pick in the 2011 Entry Draft doesn't appear to be a priority to the Senators, and rightfully so. They have not mailed in the season despite being mathematically eliminated from contention. Ottawa is 7-3-1 over its last 11 games, including two wins over the Lightning and a 2-0 victory over Washington this past Saturday. The Senators even showed their resiliency on Sunday when they rallied from a two-goal deficit to force overtime. They eventually lost in the shootout, but it gave them points in three straight games and five out of six.
Ottawa even got good news Monday when captain Daniel Alfredsson skated with the Senators at St. Pete Times Forum. Alfredsson has missed the last 23 games with a back injury and won't play Tuesday, but he is not ruling out a return this season.
"I'd like to do that, but I don't think it's overly important," Alfredsson told Sportsnet.ca when asked how important it is for him to play again this season. "If I don't, I'll be fine with it -- but I'd like to get in a couple of games if I could. A few more days here and we'll see how it goes."
Lightning -- Therapeutic is probably the best way to describe Tampa Bay's 4-2 win over Carolina on Saturday. The Lightning didn't necessarily have to win, but it did put an end to their spiraling ways. Tampa Bay had lost two in a row in regulation and was winless in four straight head into the game. The Lightning had only two prior wins this month, and just one in regulation. They needed a strong 60-minute performance against a desperate team and that's what they got. Dominic Moore's power-play goal late in the second period was the difference. Simon Gagne gave the Lightning relief by adding the empty-netter in the game's final minute.
"Lately we've been waiting for games to come to us, and it's not going to happen no matter who you play,'' coach Guy Boucher told reporters. "I think the players realized that Carolina all of a sudden was right behind us and it was real, and we haven't felt like we were fighting for our lives when everybody else is."
Who's Hot -- Senators center Jason Spezza has 4 goals and 8 assists in the last nine games. … Gagne has caught fire and has back-to-back multiple-goal games for the first time since Feb. 8-10, 2007.
Injury Report -- Lightning winger Ryan Malone hasn't played since Feb. 8, but he is close to returning. … Alfredsson (back) will miss his 24th straight game. Sergei Gonchar has been out with a concussion.
Stat Pack -- Lightning center Steven Stamkos, a Hart Trophy candidate, has no points and a minus-5 rating in his last five games and only 5 goals since the All-Star break. Stamkos is stuck on 43 goals and 86 points.
Puck Drop -- "It's not a playing slump," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said about Stamkos on Monday. "It's a scoring slump."