TAMPA — Considering the Lightning's recent struggles at home, it will take any win it can get.
But Tampa Bay's 4-3 shootout victory Thursday night over the Senators, which ended a five-game losing streak at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, was harder than it should have been.
The Lightning was in control for most of the game, but it sat back late and the Senators scored the tying goal with less than three minutes left in regulation. Tampa Bay had great opportunities in overtime, including a power play, but couldn't capitalize.
So it might have been deflating had the Lightning's Nikita Kucherov not scored to open the shootout before goalie Ben Bishop stopped all three Senators attempts to seal the win.
"If we wouldn't have gotten that shootout, it would have been pretty upsetting and disappointing," center Tyler Johnson said.
The Lightning (30-16-5), having last played Sunday, looked like it had fresher legs from the start, dominating play and racking up 16 shots in the first 10 minutes.
Defenseman Victor Hedman collected three assists, giving him a career-high 29 points in what he has called the best season of his career.
Wing B.J. Crombeen held his own in a fight with the Senators' Chris Neil before later scoring a goal and coming within an assist of a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist and fight).
"B.J. was really good," coach Jon Cooper said.
While Johnson came through with a shorthanded goal on a first-period breakaway, the Lightning gave up two power-play goals to the Senators, who entered the game with the best road power play in the league (26.8 percent).
Yet, Tampa Bay held a 3-2 lead for most of the third period, thanks to a pass by Marty St. Louis, who sent a diagonal feed from the top of the right circle to the left post, where Ondrej Palat deflected it in.
"Awesome pass," Palat said. "It was an open net, so it was easy for me."
But after that goal, which came about five minutes into the third, the Lightning sat back, and the Senators made it pay with a tying goal by Chris Neil with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left. Tampa Bay, which once led in shots 15-3, was outshot 35-23 the rest of the game. Still, it pulled out its first home win since Dec. 21 (1-3-2).
"We got the lead and all of a sudden we changed how we played," Cooper said. "We gave them too much momentum, too many chances. We were content sitting with the puck. But for the most part I thought we had pretty good legs, we had pretty good control of the game and were fortunate enough to win the shootout. … It was time we got two points out of one of these games, and we did."
|Lightning wins shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Johnson 13 (Hedman), 14:32 (sh). 2, Ottawa, E.Karlsson 12 (MacArthur, Spezza), 15:12 (pp). Penalties—Neil, Ott, major (fighting), 4:04; Crombeen, TB, major (fighting), 4:04; Barberio, TB (delay of game), 11:07; Purcell, TB (hooking), 14:21.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Crombeen 2 (Hedman, Filppula), 3:30. 4, Ottawa, MacArthur 18 (Spezza, Ryan), 16:57 (pp). Penalties—Purcell, TB (tripping), 15:07.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Palat 11 (St. Louis, Hedman), 5:31. 6, Ottawa, Neil 6 (Smith, E.Karlsson), 17:42. Penalties—Phillips, Ott (interference), 12:56.
Overtime—None. Penalties—Ceci, Ott (tripping), 3:09.
Shootout—Ottawa 0 (Zibanejad NG, Spezza NG, Turris NG), Tampa Bay 1 (Kucherov G, Filppula NG, St. Louis NG). Shots on Goal—Ottawa 12-6-16-2—36. Tampa Bay 17-9-5-7—38. Power-play opportunities—Ottawa 2 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 2. Goalies—Ottawa, Anderson 16-10-7 (38 shots-35 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 25-6-4 (36-33). A—18,751 (19,204). T—2:55.