TAMPA — Senators goalie Curtis McElhinney certainly seemed as if he covered the puck.
But that did not stop Lightning center Dominic Moore, who rushed the crease and poked it from under McElhinney's glove and across the goal line.
"You play until you hear the whistle," Moore said, "and maybe then some."
Moore's goal was the scrappiest in Tampa Bay's scrappy 5-2 victory over the Senators on Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The evening wasn't everything Tampa Bay wanted. The Hurricanes beat the Capitals, so the Lightning (41-24-11) still needs two points to clinch its first playoff spot since 2007.
That can happen tonight if Carolina loses in regulation to the Canadiens or Thursday if Tampa Bay beats the Penguins.
The emphasis, then, was how the Lightning, with back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 25-27, is climbing out of a 4-6-4 slump.
"The way we scored our goals is exactly the way we were playing before," coach Guy Boucher said. "Get rid of the dangling and the extra fluff."
In other words, the Lightning pressured the net, from where four of its goals were scored.
Moore had two for a career-best 17 and added an assist. Marty St. Louis had two goals to reach 29.
Simon Gagne, with six goals and 12 points in seven games, added two assists. And there was a Steven Stamkos sighting. The center scored his 44th, his first in seven games, into an empty net to tie the Ducks' Corey Perry for the league lead.
"Little by little we're building it back up," Moore said. "It's no secret it's all about work and effort and paying the price."
And creating results.
Moore jammed his stick under McElhinney's glove after the goalie seemed to cover Marc-Andre Bergeron's shot that ricocheted off the end boards, hit McElhinney's skate and slid toward the goal line. "It looked like it was loose," Moore said.
"We met at the same time, and he poked it in," McElhinney said of the goal that was reviewed and gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead 7:25 into the second period. "I thought I had it covered."
Four minutes earlier, St. Louis had several whacks at the puck before scoring off a terrific backhand after a cross-slot pass from Vinny Lecavalier. And don't forget goalie Dwayne Roloson, who made 31 saves, including five critical ones during consecutive second-period penalty kills to preserve the 2-0 lead.
It is the kind of effort Tampa Bay will need against Pittsburgh, a possible first-round playoff opponent.
"It's going to be a grinding game," center Nate Thompson said. "The kind of game we want to play."
The kind of game they are playing.
First Period—None. Penalties—Foligno, Ott (slashing), 14:57.
Second Period—1, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 28 (Lecavalier, Gagne), 3:15. 2, Tampa Bay, Moore 16 (Bergeron, Tyrell), 7:25. Penalties—Michalek, Ott (tripping), 9:00; Ohlund, TB (roughing), 13:29; Hedman, TB (delay of game), 15:36.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 29 (Gagne, Stamkos), 5:48. 4, Ottawa, Spezza 17 (Greening, Hale), 10:03. 5, Tampa Bay, Moore 17 (Tyrell, Clark), 11:27. 6, Ottawa, Michalek 17 (Kuba, Spezza), 15:15 (sh). 7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 44 (Hall, Moore), 19:26 (en). Penalties—Neil, Ott (elbowing, roughing, fighting), 12:09; Downie, TB, major (fighting), 12:09. Shots on Goal—Ottawa 9-13-11—33. Tampa Bay 9-9-13—31. Power-play opportunities—Ottawa 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. Goalies—Ottawa, McElhinney 9-12-1 (30 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, Roloson 21-24-5 (33-31). A—16,626 (19,758).