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St. Louis scores twice to lead Lightning past Senators

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- After being shut out in two straight games, the Tampa Bay Lightning were desperate to score some goals Thursday against the Ottawa Senators.

They got two from Martin St. Louis, who helped the Lightning to a 3-1 win against Ottawa.

Ben Bishop stopped 33 shots against his former team and Ondrej Palat had two assists and nine hits in the win.

It was St. Louis' third two-goal game of the season and increased his season total to 12.

"You give yourself a chance to win a game when you get a couple of goals," St. Louis said. "Palat made some great plays to find me. If he doesn't make those plays, I don't score."

Valtteri Filppula scored his 10th goal at 10:56 of the third period when he intercepted a pass inside the Lightning blue line and took the puck all the way by himself, finishing with a wrist shot that beat Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner to the stick side.

Ottawa, trailing by one goal, began the second period aggressively, firing 10 shots in the first eight minutes of the period before finally getting one past Bishop to tie the game at 1-1.

With Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie in the penalty box for interference, Patrick Wiercioch scored his first goal of the season on a turnaround shot from the high slot that beat Bishop to his right. Kyle Turris got the only assist.

The second period ended with Ottawa (11-14-4) outshooting Tampa Bay 18-7. It was Bishop's strong goaltending that allowed the Lightning to escape the period with a 2-1 advantage.

Tampa Bay started the game slowly, not generating its second shot on goal until 11:22 had elapsed in the opening period.

The Lightning (17-10-1) did manage to get on the board first. After shooting wide left on a breakaway, St. Louis stood his ground in front of the Ottawa net and popped a centering pass from Palat under Lehner's glove for the first goal of the game. It was St. Louis' first point in four games. The goal also snapped a scoring drought of 137:19 for Tampa Bay.

"It's a way different game when you have the lead than when you don't," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Bishop stood tall in the second, and we just managed a hockey game in the third. The puck came in and we got it out."

St. Louis' second goal of the game came at 13:19 of the second period, and it was a mirror image of the first. Once again, it was a pass from Palat from behind the net to St. Louis, who was waiting alone in front of the crease to put Tampa Bay back into the lead to stay.

"Marty put two in the net, but it is a team sport; someone had to get him the puck, and Palat did it twice," Cooper said.

Tampa Bay's already-depleted roster sustained two more losses in the game, bringing to nine the number of players out with injuries. Aulie fractured his hand and will have surgery Friday, and Victor Hedman left in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Although Hedman is day-to-day, Cooper expressed doubt that the defenseman would be ready when the Lightning host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

"You can call us the Syracuse Lightning here pretty soon," Cooper said, referring to the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate. "Literally, we have to move the locker room to the training room."

Lehner finished with 19 saves. He was disappointed with how he played.

"I'm not happy with my game," the Ottawa goalie said. "It's not a matter of good or bad goals; you have to come up with some big saves, and I think the guys are getting better, so I have to step up, too."

Jason Spezza disagreed with Lehner's assessment.

"It's certainly not Robin's fault," Spezza said. "He's been great for us, and those were good goals on him. We just weren't good enough tonight.

"It seems like we are a little bit scared to make mistakes and when you play cautious like that you don't play with enough confidence. That's why we are losing games. We have to be more of an attacking team and believe in ourselves more than we do."

Ottawa coach Paul MacLean questioned his team's effort.

"We have to play hard enough to win," MacLean said. "Obviously, we didn't play hard enough to win. We lose the game 3-1, and we have to play harder. I don't think it's like inches and inches and miles and miles that we have to play harder, but we have to play harder longer. Are we working towards it? That's the concern that we have. We have to play hard enough to win games."

Even with the injuries mounting, Cooper stressed that his focus is on looking forward.

"We just won a hockey game without those nine guys in the lineup, and it is taxing," Cooper said. "It's emotionally and physically taxing. It's tough to get synergy and chemistry and all that stuff going. I'm not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk; teams get hurt. We're probably on the extreme side. "

Still, Tampa Bay managed a win and snapped a two-game losing streak.

"We had life today. We had our lights going and we played a north-south game, and those guys were humming. It was really good to see," Cooper said. "It was a big effort from an extremely shorthanded team for most of the game."

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