In many of their recent defeats, the Lightning had played - generally - quite well for long stretches, but had made some significant mistakes that proved to be costly. That trend of combining mostly good play with isolated, damaging errors continued against the Senators - with one major difference. Thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy's overtime save on J.G. Pageau's breakaway and Anthony Cirelli's tremendous effort on the overtime winner, the Lightning came away with a victory.
First, the problem areas. As has been the case in several contests over the past weeks, the Lightning allowed a goal on the shift after one had been scored. Just 29 seconds after Brayden Point gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead, Connor Brown was left open in the slot and cut the Ottawa deficit back to one.
This game also included a key Lightning turnover, which occurred in the offensive zone. Nikita Kucherov lost the puck just inside the blue line to Anthony Duclair, who countered on a breakaway and tied the game at three.
There was one additional mistake - and this one could have given the Sens an overtime win. A miscue on a Lightning line change led to Pageau's breakaway. But Vasilevskiy stopped Pageau's shot, setting the stage for Cirelli's heroics.
Now to the positives. The Lightning's forecheck game created problems throughout the night for Ottawa. Tampa Bay won lots of puck battles in the offensive zone, dominated puck possession, recorded 40 shots on goal, and generated numerous scoring chances. In shots attempts, the Lightning almost doubled Ottawa's total, 78-41.
Coming off the disappointing plays in the second period, the Lightning produced an outstanding third. Action in the first half of the frame took place almost entirely in the Senators defensive zone. That stretch ended when Steven Stamkos was whistled for a high-sticking double minor and the Lightning had to kill four minutes of penalty time. The PK unit consistently cleared pucks down the ice, limited Ottawa's offensive zone possession time, and held the Sens to just one dangerous sequence over the four minutes. After the long kill, the Lightning went back on the attack and almost netted a go-ahead goal in the final minute of regulation. Sens goalie Marcus Hogberg made a game-saving stop on Yanni Gourde's in-alone chance.
But he couldn't deny Cirelli's breakaway, which came at 4:41 of the extra session. Cirelli started the play by stripping Thomas Chabot of the puck in the Lightning defensive zone. The Sens still had two players back defensively, but they were both forwards - Chris Tierney and Nick Paul. Going coast-to-coast, Cirelli accelerated past both of them, finished his shot into the top of the net, and put two points in the bank for the Lightning.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Anthony Cirelli - Lightning. GWG.
- Cedric Paquette - Lightning. Goal.
- Chris Tierney - Senators. Two assists in his 400th NHL regular season game.