OTTAWA â€” Senators head coach Guy Boucher thought Ottawa had shaken off its rust and had the momentum in their game. But then it all fell away.
Victor Hedman scored the overtime winner as Tampa Bay defeated Ottawa 2-1 on Tuesday night. Both teams played a solid game, but it was the Lightning who showed more energy in the third despite having played the night before.
Boucher was less than impressed with his team’s performance in the third considering his team was coming off two-days rest, compared to the Lightning who had played the night before.
“It looked like the first game after a road trip,” said Boucher. “I thought the second period we started to get better and I thought it would carry into the third period, but it didn’t. We tried to play run and gun with a team that’s much better than us with that, they have more skill than us, and (Mike) Condon saved us there and got us a point.”
The point could prove valuable down the stretch as it moved Ottawa to within one of the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand.
“Every point you put in the bank at this time of year is important, no doubt about it,” said Tommy Wingels, who scored the lone goal for the Senators. “We’re disappointed in one out of two, absolutely, but it’s about racking up those points any way you can.
“The point was important, we’ll take that from it, but the better team, the more deserving team got the two I think.”
The two points were extremely valuable for Tampa, which is fighting to get back into the playoff picture. The win has them tied with the Islanders, who posted a 3-2 overtime win over Carolina, to take over the final wild card in the East.
“I thought as every period went on we got stronger and stronger and stronger and it was almost like we got a little bit quicker,” said Tampa head coach Jon Cooper.
Cooper admitted as stressful as every game is it’s also “a lot of fun.”
Brayden Point also scored as the Lightning (34-26-9) extended their win streak to four games. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves.
“I think what’s gotten us on this little run here is all teamwork, everyone is working for each other and everybody plays their role and doing their thing and it pays off at the end,” said Anton Stralman. “It’s all about consistency and right now everyone is doing the work.”
Ottawa’s Mike Condon had 35 saves and was nothing short of spectacular at times for the Senators (39-22-7), who saw a six-game winning streak come to an end.
Ottawa was without goaltender Craig Anderson, who is sidelined with a lower body injury, as is Mark Stone. However, the Senators did get Bobby Ryan back in the lineup after missing 11 games with a broken finger and Kyle Turris returned after missing three games with a finger injury.
Tied 1-1 to start the third neither team seemed able to grab momentum, but Condon made a huge toe save on Nikita Kucherov midway through the period and went on to be even more impressive a couple minutes later as Tampa had multiple chances, but just couldn’t find a way to beat the Ottawa netminder.
Condon’s heroics had the 16,894 on hand at Canadian Tire Centre chanting his name.
“He was unbelievable, big saves at big moments,” said Wingels. “There’s a difference between making a save in a 5-1 game and making a save when the game’s on the line and this guy made the save when the game was on the line many times (Tuesday). That’s all you can ask for from your goalie. He was fantastic.”
The Senators had the perfect opportunity to steal the win late in the third when Tampa was called for too many men, but Ottawa, once again, was unable to capitalize.
Trailing 1-0 the Senators tied the game in the opening minutes of the second as Wingels fired a shot and beat Vasilevskiy stick side.
The Lightning opened the scoring just three minutes into the period as Point jumped on a rebound down low and had a wide open net.
Tampa nearly had a second in the dying seconds of the period, but Condon managed to reach back and stop the puck from crossing the goal line.
Notes: The Senators were without D Mark Borowiecki (lower body). Tampa was missing C Tyler Johnson (lower body) and C Cedric Paquette (lower body).
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press