Vladislav Namestnikov scored the game-winning goal with three minutes remaining in regulation to hand the Lightning a 4-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa on Saturday evening.
It took nearly 30 minutes for either team to break through.
Colin White got Ottawa on the board midway through the second period. Brady Tkachuk freed up space with a one-touch pass and White fired a shot that beat McElhinney on his glove side.
Video: TBL@OTT: Palat crashes the net, taps home feed
The Lightning tied the game 37 seconds later with Tyler Johnson feeding a streaking Ondrej Palat who tapped the puck past Craig Anderson.
With less than a minute remaining in the second period, Jean-Gabriel Pageau gave the hosts the lead once again. From behind the goal line, Pageau caught McElhinney slightly out of position and banked the puck in off the goaltender's leg.
The Lightning equalized again on Luke Witkowski's first goal of the season. Pat Maroon drew the attention of two Senators defenders, leaving Witkowski wide open to receive a pass and fire a quick shot past Anderson.
The Bolts kept the pressure up and thought they had grabbed the lead minutes later. Nikita Kucherov scored off a feed from Steven Stamkos, but the officials ruled that Mikhail Sergachev had made contact with Anderson in the crease thus negating the goal.
That call ended up costing Tampa Bay.
With just over three minutes remaining, former Bolt Vladislav Namestnikov scored the game-winning goal after a turnover from Braydon Coburn at center ice sent the Senators into the zone on a 2-on-1. Namestnikov added an empty net goal late to finish off Tampa Bay.
Video: TBL@OTT: McElhinney robs Ryan's bid from in close
The end result didn't match the performance of Curtis McElhinney in goal. After a 40-save performance almost singlehandedly salvaged a point for the Lightning in his first start vs. Carolina, McElhinney made 30 stops on Saturday and carried the Lightning through a several difficult stretches.
Tampa Bay now has two days off before they resume the road trip on Tuesday vs. the Canadiens in Montreal.
OTT | 13:44 Colin White (1) - Brady Tkachuk, Bobby Ryan
TBL | 14:21 Ondrej Palat (3) - Tyler Johnson
OTT | 19:33 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1) - Vladislav Namestnikov
TBL | 8:56 Luke Witkowski (1) - Pat Maroon, Mikhail Sergachev
OTT | 16:57 Vladislav Namestnikov (1) - Connor Brown
OTT | 1938 Vladislav Namestnikov (2) - Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Nikita Zatsev - EN