This was a solid win for the Lightning, a contest in which they played their best period of the season. That period - the first - didn't result in the lead (or even a goal), but it set the tone for the game. With the exception of a stretch in the second half of the second period and early minutes of the third, the Lightning were decisively the better team in this game. And deserving of the victory.
One of the problems the Lightning had in their loss to Colorado on Thursday was that they struggled to get through the neutral zone with speed. In the first period against Ottawa, however, the Lightning navigated their way through the neutral zone beautifully. As a result, they were able to enter the Ottawa defensive zone and apply consistent pressure. They also effectively broke out of their own end cleanly and did well to retrieve loose pucks in all three zones. The Bolts outshot the Sens, 14-4, in the first and enjoyed most of the puck possession. Unfortunately, they weren't rewarded for their efforts. Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson made some key saves to keep the game scoreless after the first.
The Lightning did get rewarded early in the second when they scored goals on each of their first two power play chances. The first tally came 11 seconds after the power play started - and the sequence began with an offensive zone faceoff win. Shortly thereafter, Anton Stralman's shot from the center point was deflected twice - first by Ondrej Palat and then by Vladdy Namestnikov. The puck, which was initially heading towards Anderson's stick side, beat him low on the glove side.
Nearly four minutes later, the Lightning cashed in on another power play chance. This goal was made possible because of Nikita Kucherov's key play along the boards in the offensive zone. Kucherov beat Marc Methot to a loose puck and slid a pass to Namestnikov in the right corner. Kucherov's play allowed the Lightning to maintain possession and, with Methot out of position, create a scoring chance. Namestnikov set up Steven Stamkos at the opposite post for the Lightning's second goal.
As the game approached the halfway point, the Lightning were outshooting the Sens, 20-6. But the Bolts took consecutive penalties and the Senators gained momentum from those chances (even though they didn't score on them). Eventually, Chris Neil slammed home a rebound from the crease after Andrei Vasilevskiy couldn't control the rebound of Neil's initial shot. The goal came with 4:33 left in the second and the Sens buzzed through the end of the period. They generated several scoring chances and Erik Karlsson hit the crossbar. But the Lightning got out of the frame still with the 2-1 lead.
Vasilevskiy's work late in the second preserved the Lightning's advantage - and he made two more important saves on Chris Kelly early in the third. But after that, the Lightning reestablished control. They became tighter in the neutral zone and cut off the Ottawa attack. A third Lightning power play at 5:13 didn't yield a goal, but it did generate more momentum for Tampa Bay. Less than a minute after the power play ended, Alex Killorn provided an insurance goal. Jason Garrison's quick outlet from his own end to Valtteri Filppula resulted in a three-on-two rush. Filppula passed to Killron at the right circle while Brayden Point went to the front of the net. Killorn wristed the puck past Anderson's stick side.
The Sens had one last push during a final power play at 10:27, but Vasilevskiy turned aside all three shots they posted during that man advantage. Filppula iced the game when he converted on a breakaway with just under two minutes left.
The Lightning's response in the third was impressive. The Sens had three early shots in the final frame (including those two chances for Kelly). After that, however, the Senators had only two even strength shots for the rest of the period. Combine the Lightning's strong finish with their outstanding start and the Bolts can feel very good about their performance in the opening game of this six-game road trip.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Killorn's third period goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1. Valtteri Filppula - Lightning. Goal and assist.
2. Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 27 saves.
3. Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Assist.