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Senators get crucial victory against Lightning

by Chris Stevenson /

OTTAWA -- Patrick Wiercioch scored with 16.9 seconds left in overtime to give the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

The Senators (39-26-12) trail the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings by three points for third place in the Atlantic Division. The teams also are competing for a wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Boston defeated the Red Wings 3-2 on Thursday. The Senators and Red Wings have five games left; the Bruins have four.

Wiercioch scored on a shot from the right circle off a pass from Mark Stone that beat Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop.

Two of Wiercioch's three goals this season are game-winners.

"It was nice," Wiercioch said. "I was laughing in the second period because Bobby [Ryan] had me set up for a one-timer and it just went over my stick. I was just hoping it wasn't going to be one of those nights.

"In the back of my mind I thought about that before taking a swing at [Stone's] pass. Settling it and making sure it was flat was the right decision."

Bishop made 32 saves for the Lightning (47-24-8), who trail the Montreal Canadiens by one point for first place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay has played one more game than Montreal, which lost 5-4 in overtime to the Washington Capitals.

The regulation goals in this game were scored in the first period by rookies. Stone was first with his 20th of the season, and Jonathan Drouin scored his fourth for the Lightning.

Stone got the puck in the Senators zone and found Clarke MacArthur with a stretch pass. MacArthur curled in the Tampa Bay zone and made a short pass to Kyle Turris. He shot on net, and Stone scored on the rebound at 5:03.

Drouin scored his second goal in three games at 16:53 with Erik Karlsson off for holding. Ottawa's Jean-Gabriel Pageau had the best chance to clear the puck at the left point in a scrum, but the Lightning kept it in. Valtteri Filppula found Drouin in the right circle, and his shot went over the right shoulder of Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond.

Hammond, who made 28 saves, is 16-1-1 as a starter in the NHL.

"You look at the teams in the League that are rising to the occasion, there's different guys taking the team by the boot straps," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "We just ask all our guys, we just need a little bit more. And then when you get that little bit more, you multiply it by 20, and it becomes a lot more."

The Lightning played the game without four of their top six defensemen; Victor Hedman, Braydon Coburn, Jason Garrison and Andrej Sustr are injured.

"We want to make sure we're playing a full 60 minutes. That's kind of been our Achilles' heel," Bishop said.

"It's a little bit different team on the backside for us. I thought we played well. I thought those guys (defensemen Slater Koekkoek, Nikita Nesterov and Luke Witkowski) came up and played well. We've just got to keep battling the last couple of games. We played a full 60 minutes. We took a little time off at the beginning of the game, but other than that I thought we played pretty well."

The Lightning are 1-2-1 on their five-game road trip that ends at the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Tampa Bay earlier lost to the Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"The Detroit game was a disappointment and the Toronto game was a disappointment," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. "That's two games we could have come out so different. That's our own fault. We have to live with that. We have a good chance back home in Florida [on] Saturday. It's about how we play [rather] than the points itself."

The Lightning also played without second-leading scorer Tyler Johnson. Coach Jon Cooper said it was doubtful any of the injured players would be available against the Panthers.

"I don't know what their shot count ended up," Cooper said of the Senators. "They didn't have a bunch of Grade A chances on us. We defended well. We gave up one goal in 60 minutes. You can't ask for much more than that against a team that is as desperate as you can be. It stings sitting here after you give up the overtime winner, but I'm going to look back and give our guys credit for hanging in there."

Cooper said the Lightning have the biggest piece of their game in place.

"You want to be humming on all cylinders when you get to the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. Our compete level is really high, so that's where everything starts," he said. "You can fix all the other things. They're battling hard, and guys who might be playing in the playoffs are getting much needed NHL experience. You've got to like that."

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