OTTAWA – The Tampa Bay Lightning rode a three-goal second period to a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday, ending the Senators two-game winning streak.
Tyler Johnson led the way with two goals, both on setups by Nikita Kucherov which left Johnson with open nets behind Senators goaltender Robin Lehner.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored the game-winner late in the second period on an outstanding individual effort.
The win tied Tampa Bay with the Montreal Canadiens at 54 points atop the Atlantic Division, with the Canadiens holding two games in hand.
The Lightning will play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said before the game Sunday that his players hadn’t handled adversity well on the road this season – the Lightning entered the game with a 9-8-3 road record compared to 15-4-1 at home – but they overcame a goal by Ottawa’s Kyle Turris on the first shift of the game after a turnover by Stamkos and bounced back after falling behind a second time.
The Lightning (25-12-4) took a 3-2 lead over the Senators (16-15-7) with goals 47 seconds apart by Johnson and Stamkos late in the second period.
Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop – traded to the Lightning by the Senators in April 2013 – is 6-0-2 against his former team. He made 20 saves.
Lehner started his first game since Dec. 20. He made 26 saves in the loss.
“We give up one on the first shift, but after that I thought we had a great response of just sticking with the game plan,” Stamkos said. “Take kind of what they gave us … a big effort for us tonight.”
Stamkos, who had one goal in his past six games, bulled his way to the Ottawa net at 16:55 of the second, leaving Turris in his wake. It was similar to the winning goal in overtime by Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist against Ottawa Dec. 27. Nyquist held the puck for 28 seconds before scoring.
This wasn’t quite that long, but was still impressive.
“Things haven’t been going great lately so just trying to work hard tonight,” Stamkos said. “On that one, I just got the puck on the sidewall and just tried to make a play. I used my speed and I used my strength to take it to the net. It was good to see that one go in and hopefully get things rolling.”
“That’s impressive. I don’t know too many guys in the league who can do that goal,” Johnson said. “Just moving his feet the entire time. It’s fun to watch. It looked a little bit like Nyquist there, if you guys remember seeing that one. It was nice, it was really nice. It got the guys going, for sure. It was awesome for him to do that because he’s been working hard.
“I think after that goal [Senators captain Erik] Karlsson came by the bench and gave a little look like, ‘wow, that was pretty good.’ I think if anybody is able to do that, it’s pretty sweet.”
Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tied the game 1-1, finishing off a sequence at 3:48 of the second period that saw the Senators running around their own zone.
Ottawa’s Mark Stone put the Senators back in front with his ninth of the season at 7:30; four seconds after a Senators power play had expired. Stone took a pass from Turris and snapped a shot from the left wing circle over Bishop’s right shoulder.
The Senators power play is now 0-for-21 in the past six games.
Tampa Bay tied the game 2-2 with Ottawa defenseman Codi Ceci serving his first penalty of the season. Johnson finished off a setup by Kucherov, whose pass across the slot found Johnson in the left wing circle at 16:08.
Stamkos then scored his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
Cooper said it was a goal that was out of character for Stamkos, but typical of what a handful of players in the NHL are capable of scoring.
“The thing is he’s been a little bit snake bit lately so when you see Stammer goals you’re looking at the one-timers, the wrist shots … what does he do? He puck protects, he battles his way to the front of the net, reaches around and jams one home,” Cooper said. “You don’t really see him score those goals, but that’s Stammer trying to will that puck into the net. Elite players can do that and that’s what he did.
“I felt for him on the first shift. He turns that one over and it winds up in the back of the net. He was humming tonight. He had seven shots, a couple of Grade As, a well-deserved goal. I thought he was really good tonight.”
Turris took the blame for the key goal.
“We got off to the good start, then it’s 2-1 us, and they tied it up, and then I made a terrible play on Stamkos there behind the net. Can’t let that happen,” Turris said.
“You can’t chase the game like that. I’ve got to be better.”
Johnson made it 4-2 at 7:58 of the third period just after a Tampa Bay power play expired. Kucherov found him in the right-wing circle and he scored his 15th of the season. The goal added to his League-leading points total at even-strength. 36 of Johnson’s 43 points this season have come at even-strength.
The Senators, who defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime Saturday, looked like they ran out of energy as the game progressed.
“It seemed like it,” Lehner said. “I don’t know, the energy wasn’t there. I think our two most dangerous shifts came at the beginning of the first and second, and then it fell off.
“It shouldn’t happen. I think we can stay in these games with these tops teams, but today we made it easy for them. Give too much space to these guys, and you’re not going to win.”
The Senators are 5-4-2 under coach Dave Cameron, who took over for Paul MacLean on Dec. 8.
“That’s a pretty good team,” Cameron said. “They forced us to play quick tonight and we just didn’t seem to have the jump to do it.
The Senators begin a four-game road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.