OTTAWA — Lightning wing Marty St. Louis could only stare at the net in disbelief.
With Tampa Bay down two goals early in the third period, St. Louis had lifted a rebound over Senators goalie Craig Anderson. He appeared destined for a goal. But the puck, fluttering in the air, bounced harmlessly off the post.
It was that kind of night for the Lightning, which lost 4-1 Thursday to Ottawa despite outshooting and outplaying the Senators in front of a sellout crowd of 19,944 at Scotiabank Place.
The Lightning (17-19-3) has found ways to lose its share of games in a season in which it entered Thursday seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But against the Senators, Tampa Bay — which held a 36-24 shot advantage — couldn't buy a break.
It got a solid night from goalie Dwayne Roloson, who made his first start since Dec. 12. Roloson, having struggled with consistency in the season's first half, played fairly well, making 20 saves.
The Senators struck first, on their fourth shot. Colin Greening sent a wrist shot from just past the blue line, and Roloson steered it aside. But Jason Spezza pounced on the loose puck, using his long reach to tap it past Roloson for a 1-0 lead.
Ottawa went up 2-0 late in the second period. On a delayed penalty call, with an extra attacker, Senators center Kyle Turris positioned himself in front of the net and redirected a pass from captain Daniel Alfredsson over Roloson's shoulder.
Steven Stamkos brought Tampa Bay within one with just more than 11 minutes left in the third, driving to the net and knocking in a loose puck in the crease. It was Stamkos' league-leading 28th goal of the season.
About a minute after Lightning center Dana Tyrell hit the crossbar, Senators center Zack Smith sealed the deal with just more than three minutes to go on a one-timer for a 3-1 lead.
But the Lightning controlled most of the game, including a second-period flurry in which it piled on several scoring chances and outshot the Senators 16-8. Teddy Purcell nearly knocked in a rebound after Dominic Moore drove the net. Stamkos found St. Louis with a great pass, but St. Louis couldn't put a backhand on net.
The Lightning even had some good looks on the power play but continued its puzzling futility. It is now 1-for-33 in its past nine road games (and league-worst 7-for-82 on the season). That included coming up empty on a golden opportunity when it was down by a goal with eight minutes left.
To add injury to insult, Tampa Bay, already short-handed up front with wing Ryan Malone (lower body) missing the past two games, lost two more forwards. Adam Hall and rookie J.T. Wyman left the game with unspecified upper-body injuries.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Period—1, Ottawa, Spezza 15 (Greening, Gonchar), 10:36. Penalties—Konopka, Ott (tripping), 7:21; Hall, TB, major (fighting), 12:00; Carkner, Ott, major (fighting), 12:00; Turris, Ott (boarding), 18:58.
Second Period—2, Ottawa, Turris 1 (Alfredsson, Condra), 17:07. Penalties—Thompson, TB (clipping), 8:02.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 28 (Lecavalier, Gilroy), 8:48. 4, Ottawa, Z.Smith 12 (Alfredsson), 16:34. 5, Ottawa, Alfredsson 13 (Turris, Foligno), 19:07 (en). Penalties—Stamkos, TB (slashing), 5:36; Greening, Ott (slashing), 11:52. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 11-16-9—36. Ottawa 7-8-9—24. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 3; Ottawa 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Roloson 6-9-1 (23 shots-20 saves). Ottawa, Anderson 19-12-3 (36-35). A—19,944 (19,153). T—2:28.