``It's two good teams that know how to battle right at the end,'' Tampa Bay's Dave Andreychuk said after Chris Phillips scored from just inside the blue line Monday night to give the Senators a 5-4 overtime victory over the Eastern Conference leaders.
``We showed good character by coming back. But they also did, too. That's the intensity level both teams want going into the playoffs. We've been looking for that, and in our last few games we've been able to get that. It's a good thing.''
The victory gave Ottawa a sweep of the season series. The Senators are 13-2-1 against Tampa Bay the past four years, and outscored the Southeast Division champions 17-9 in four games this season.
The Lightning are 8-2-2 against the second, third and fourth-place teams in the East. They're also at a loss to explain their futility against No. 5 Ottawa, which moved within one point of Toronto and Boston _ the co-leaders in the Northeast Division.
``We got a point, but it's still a loss,'' Tampa Bay's Tim Taylor said. ``Our goals aren't the Eastern Conference anymore. Our goals are the Presidents' Trophy and it looks with just getting a point tonight we won't be able to do it now.''
Tampa Bay began the night tied with Detroit for the overall NHL points lead.
The Red Wings beat Minnesota 5-3 and pulled one point ahead of the Lightning with 105. Detroit has three games remaining, and Tampa Bay has two.
``They're a great hockey team,'' Ottawa's Brian Pothier said of the Lightning. ``Top to bottom, the team is super talented. They've got all the tools. It's great to go out and compete hard against a team like that.''
Daniel Alfredsson became the Senators' career goals leader in the third period and got an assist on the winner after stealing the puck from defenseman Darryl Sydor along the boards.
Ottawa's four-time All-Star scored his 219th goal to pass Alexei Yashin on the Senators' career list early in the third. He then fed Phillips, who had a clear shot at Nikolai Khabibulin and slipped the puck to the left of the Tampa Bay goaltender.
``He made a great pass. I had a lot of time,'' Phillips said. ``Their player was coming out and only about halfway and (Bryan) Smolinski was right in front of the net so it made it really tough for Khabibulin to see it. I watched it go straight in the corner.''
Each team scored twice in the last 3:12 of the third period with Dave Andreychuk getting both of Tampa Bay's tallies, including the goal that made it 4-4 with just 27.9 seconds left in regulation.
Dan Boyle also scored in the third, wiping out a 2-1 lead the Senators took on Alfredsson's goal just 29 seconds into the period.
Marian Hossa, Mike Fisher, and Martin Havlat also scored for Ottawa. Cory Stillman had Tampa Bay's other goal, scoring on a wrist shot from the right circle in the opening period.
Backup Martin Prusek made 24 saves for Ottawa to improve to 3-0 this season against Tampa Bay. Regular starter Patrick Lalime didn't play because of a sprained left knee. He is not expected back until at least this weekend.
``I think we showed a lot of determination to come back and not give up, not to get down, continue to play hard even though this place was just rocking,'' Pothier said. ``It's a fun time. It was like a playoff atmosphere.''
|Cory Stillman (25) Wrist shot - ASST: Brad Lukowich (12), Dan Boyle (30)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Marty Havlat (30) Wrist shot - ASST: Peter Schaefer (23), Mike Fisher (5)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Daniel Alfredsson (32) Wrist shot - ASST: Bryan Smolinski (26), Peter Bondra (23)|
2 - 1 OTT
|Dan Boyle (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Martin St. Louis (55), Ruslan Fedotenko (22)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Dave Andreychuk (20) Tip-in - ASST: Vincent Lecavalier (33), Martin St. Louis (56)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Marian Hossa (35) Tip-in - ASST: Wade Redden (26)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Mike Fisher (4) Wrist shot - ASST: Marty Havlat (36), Zdeno Chara (23)|
4 - 3 OTT
|Dave Andreychuk (21) Wrist shot - ASST: Brad Richards (51), Vincent Lecavalier (34)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Chris Phillips (6) Slapshot - ASST: Daniel Alfredsson (48)|
5 - 4 OTT
|Peter Bondra Roughing|
|Tim Taylor Holding|
|Ben Clymer Hi-sticking|
|Ben Clymer Hi-sticking|
|Curtis Leschyshyn Cross checking against Martin St. Louis|
|Wade Redden Hooking against Freddy Modin|