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Lightning looking to avenge perplexing early-season loss to Ottawa

Bolts were "outworked" in a 4-2 loss to the Sens back in October

by Bryan Burns @BBurnsNHL /

The last time the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Ottawa Senators, the performance was one of the poorest of the season for the Bolts.

The Lightning were lethargic against a, at the time, winless Ottawa team. The game was tied 2-2 late until former Tampa Bay forward Vladislav Namestnikov burned the Bolts for a pair of goals over the final 3:03 to help the Senators pull out their first victory of the season.

The result was a head-scratcher for the Lightning, who were coming off a dominating 7-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. After the surprising Ottawa loss, the Lightning would go on to defeat Montreal and Boston on the road.

Video: Preview | Lightning vs Senators

So how does a team that has Stanley Cup aspirations lose to a team near the bottom of the NHL standings while handling teams at the top of the division like the Leafs and Bruins?

"We got outworked in Ottawa," Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk replied. "Frankly we just weren't ready for that work ethic that they brought. I think we thought it was going to be an easy game, and that's on us. Shame on us. They're a team over there that plays hard no matter what. They have a lot of young, good players over there, a lot of skill. If you give them time and space, just like any team in this league, they're going to make you pay. We want to make sure that we're giving them the full respect and our best game, and we'll see how they can handle that."

The Lightning never led in that Ottawa loss, falling behind 1-0 and 2-1 before Namestnikov sealed the Bolts' fate late.

"If you fall asleep on them, they're going to get you, and they've gotten a bunch of teams this year," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.

Tampa Bay isn't the only team to suffer a shocking loss to the Senators. In December, Ottawa has won in Edmonton, knocked off Boston by a 5-2 count and won in Columbus in overtime. The Senators are 3-2-1 over their last six games.

"They always play hard," Bolts left wing Ondrej Palat said. "They're a young team. They have a lot of speed. They just work hard. We need to match it, and we'll be fine."

The Lightning have revenge on their mind when they play the Senators tonight. They want to prove that early-season defeat to the Sens was an aberration. They also want to rebound from another demoralizing loss Saturday to the NHL-leading Washington Capitals where a 45-second span in the third period derailed a good overall performance.

"I think especially because it's a divisional game, you want to make sure against all these teams, doesn't matter if it's Boston or Ottawa, you're giving everybody that respect and getting everyone's best effort," Shattenkirk said. "There's obviously a rivalry factor when we're playing them four or five times a year, so we want to make sure we're setting the tone and setting that precedent that we're a team in the division that teams are scared of."

The Lightning have won seven straight against Atlantic Division opponents since that early-season loss to Ottawa.

Video: Cooper on match-up with Senators

INJURY UPDATES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Tyler Johnson "should be good to go" for tonight's game against the Senators. Johnson has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury. He has seven goals and 14 points through 27 games this season.

Surprisingly, Nikita Kucherov might also be in the lineup tonight too. Yesterday, Cooper said it would take a lot of healing for Kucherov to be available tonight, but the Russian right wing skated with his teammates during Tuesday's optional morning skate for the first time since stepping in front of a John Carlson slapshot Saturday and blocking the shot with his right leg, leaving him crumpled on the ice and unable to return to action.

Kucherov leads the Lightning for assists (24) and scoring (34 pts.).

"Kuch will be the one that we're waiting on, so we'll see that one tonight," Cooper said. "He's skating now, but he'll be a game-time decision."

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