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Senators go for four in a row at Tampa Bay

by Brian Hunter /

SENATORS (3-0-0) at LIGHTNING (2-1-0)


Season series: First of three meetings this season. Ottawa swept the 2011-12 season series, outscoring Tampa Bay 19-6. Jason Spezza (Feb. 14) and Milan Michalek (March 6) each recorded hat tricks for the Senators.

Big story: Ottawa was a streaky team last season, and that appears to be carrying over into the 2012-13 campaign -- which for the moment is fine with the Senators, because they've won three in a row to take the early lead in the Northeast Division. Tampa Bay, coming off a season in which it missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sits atop the Southeast.

Team Scope:

Senators: One of the hallmarks of Ottawa's potent offense is the ability of its defensemen to step up and contribute, as was evidenced yet again Thursday night in Florida. The Senators yielded the early lead, but drew even by the end of the first period on a power-play goal by veteran Chris Phillips. Erik Karlsson then snapped in the go-ahead goal midway through the second on a spectacular play, and Spezza sealed the 3-1 victory with an empty-netter. Craig Anderson continued his mastery of his former club with 25 saves.

"I haven't seen too many people get from the blue line at a dead stop to the hash marks and shoot the puck in the net like that in a real long time," coach Paul MacLean said in describing Karlsson's goal. "I thought, that's what makes you a Norris Trophy winner -- the ability to sometimes make something out of nothing."

Lightning: Mathieu Garon did everything he could Tuesday to make sure Tampa Bay doesn't forget what he can do after the offseason acquisition of Anders Lindback from Nashville. The Lightning started Lindback in their first two games of the season, which they split, then gave the nod to Garon against Carolina in the Hurricanes' home opener. All he did was stop 36 of 37 shots while getting support from four different scorers in a 4-1 win for the Bolts.

"It was nice to bounce back and have everyone chip in," said Ryan Malone, who chipped in a power-play goal. "It was important to get off to an early start and that carried us. All around, it was a much better defensive effort [than Monday] and Garon played great out there."

Who's hot: MacLean will have a tough call whether to sit Anderson on the second night of a back-to-back for the Senators -- he's posted an 0.67 goals-against average and .977 save percentage in his three starts. … Rookie Cory Conacher (2-3-5) and superstar Steven Stamkos (1-4-5) have points in all three games for the Lightning.

Injury report: Ottawa defenseman Mike Lundin is out with a broken finger. … The Lightning are healthy.

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