This was not the Lightning’s night. They were not able to match Ottawa’s level, either in terms of competing or executing.
The Senators lost a game last week at home to Edmonton, 7-2. That prompted a players-only meeting and the team rebounded with a resounding 6-1 triumph over Toronto on Saturday. They came into this contest similarly motivated and inspired. They consistently attacked Lightning puck carriers and forced numerous turnovers. An early neutral zone turnover led to Zack Smith’s opening goal. On Ottawa’s second goal, forechecking pressure led to another steal and a Shane Prince tally. J.T. Brown, who was the Lightning’s best player in the game, was able to put home a rebound goal on the next shift. That goal cut the Ottawa lead to 2-1, but that would be as close as the Lightning would get.
The Sens broke the game open in the second. During a power play, Mark Stone put home a rebound from the goal mouth to extend Ottawa’s lead to 3-1. On that goal, all four Lightning penalty killers were around the puck, but Stone was the one to get his stick on it. On Stone’s second goal in the period, the Sens won several puck battles in the offensive zone to maintain possession before Stone scored from the high slot.
The Lightning did have more puck possession in the third period, but the Sens defended well to limit any dangerous scoring chances. Jon Cooper, as he did when his team was down by multiple goals on January 23 against Florida, pulled goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy about halfway through the third period. After four and a half minutes, though, the Sens scored an empty-netter to set the final at 5-1.
The Lightning will complete this back-to-back on Tuesday in Montreal. Like the Sens, the Canadiens are working their way out of a slump – they’ve won two straight heading into Tuesday’s game. So the Lightning should expect to face another motivated, inspired opponent. They’ll need to play better and bring a higher compete level if they want to get points out of this two-game trip.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Stone’s PPG, which gave Ottawa a 3-1 lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Mark Stone – Senators. Two goals and assist.
2.J.G. Pageau – Senators. Goal and two assists.
3.J.T. Brown – Lightning. Goal.