The Tampa Bay Lightning played their most complete game of the year in winning their first road game 4-1 at Ottawa to improve to 4-1-0 on the season.
Granted, the Bolts have only played five games.
Still, the Lightning, aside from a brief hiccup late in the second period, ran like a well-oiled machine on Saturday. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead, withstood a brief pushback by Ottawa and secured the victory with a dominant third period.
The Lightning continue on their journey through northeast Canada and the United States when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
Saturday's performance was a good start to a long road trip.
3 Things from Saturday's victory over the Guy Boucher-led Senators ahead
1. SECONDARY SCORING
Video: Bolts beat Senators 4-1The Lightning began their first road trip of the season with just four points combined from its defensemen, three of those points tallied by Victor Hedman.
Before Saturday's game at Ottawa, Anton Stralman talked about the importance of the defensemen doing a better job joining the rush and the forwards getting more pucks to the defensemen once they enter the zone.
Then the Bolts went out and did just that against the Senators.
Stralman got it started himself for the Bolts' first goal, sending a shot from the blue line on a power play that both Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov got a piece of to deflect past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. Stralman got the second assist on Namestnikov's goal for his first point of the season.
Later in the game with Tampa Bay clinging to a 2-1 lead, Jason Garrison engineered a huge goal for the Bolts, sending the puck ahead to Valtteri Filppula on a rush and Filppula finding Alex Killorn for his team-leading fourth goal of the season and Garrison's second assist of the season.
Bolts defensemen accounted for two points on Saturday, half their total from the first four games of the season.
Additionally, Vladislav Namestnikov, who was scoreless entering Saturday's game, made a big impact in the 4-1 win over the Senators, scoring a goal and adding an assist for the ninth multi-point game of his career.
"First couple of games, things were not going my way, but stayed in front of the net and something good was bound to happen," Namestnikov said.
The Lightning now have nine players with goals and 14 players with at least a point.
That kind of balanced scoring bodes well for the team as its primary scorers won't always be able to get on the score sheet.
2. VASY, VASY, VASY…OY, OY, OY
Video: TBL@OTT: Vasilevskiy denies Ryan with a glove saveThe Lightning dominated Ottawa through the first 30 minutes of the game in building a 2-0 lead, but the Senators climbed back into the contest thanks to back-to-back penalties against the Bolts.
Chris Neil connected on the second of the two power plays to cut Tampa Bay's lead to one, and the Senators' momentum continued throughout the second half of the period.
The Lightning were teetering, holding onto the one-goal lead and just trying to get into the locker room and regroup before giving up another.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was the one to settle the team.
"He was huge. Can't believe he didn't stop that first one; I'm just kidding," Bolts captain Steven Stamkos joked. "He's a great young goalie. We saw last year what he can do when he's feeling it. First couple starts, not a lot rattles that guy. For him to be that mature as a young kid is impressive, and we're fortunate to have the two goals in net that we have."
The Senators had a couple point-blank chances late in the second to tie the game. Vasilevskiy stopped every one of them to keep the Bolts in front.
"It's become something that you just expect from Vasy," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. "He's come up huge in games. Regardless if it's him or Bish, you know we have a goalie that's capable of stealing a game, not just keeping you in it."
Vasilevskiy, who made 27-of-28 saves to register his second win in as many games, didn't have to steal Saturday's game.
But he certainly kept the Bolts in it when they were close to faltering.
3. THE OPENING GOAL
Video: TBL@OTT: Palat tips in shot off Namestnikov for PPGThe Lightning were forced to play catch up in every one of its first four games of the year, the Bolts surrendering the opening goal in each.
On Saturday, Tampa Bay finally learned what it's like to play with a lead.
It's something they'd like to do more often.
"Well, there's 82 games in the year. I was hoping we would score first at some point," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper remarked.
The Bolts failed to score a first-period goal again on Saturday and haven't scored one all season, one of only two teams entering the Ottawa game not to score in the first (Vancouver was the other team).
But the Bolts dominated the first 20 minutes, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
"That was the start of a six-game road trip for us," Cooper said. "It was imperative we get off to a good start. I thought our first period was the best one of the year. We really controlled the tempo."
From there, the Bolts rolled.
And they'll try to keep that momentum rolling with another solid start when they face Toronto on Tuesday.