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Defensemen focused on offense paying off

During the Lightning's three-game winning streak, the team's blue line has played a pivotal role in the scoring.

Coach John Tortorella has long preached the importance of his defensemen joining the offensive charge, and they've become the faithful.

Lightning defensemen have accounted for 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in the past three games.

Defenseman Filip Kuba scored the tying goal and added an assist on the winner in Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over Ottawa on Sunday. Defensemen Paul Ranger and Dan Boyle assisted on the third goal late in the third period.

And Boyle has six points (three goals, three assists) in the past three games.

"It's something that's new for me," said Kuba, who came to the Lightning from a defensive-minded system in Minnesota. "I'm enjoying jumping into the play and being a part of the rush."

The Lightning is 5-0 when a defenseman scores.

HUNGRY AT HOME: The Lightning moved above .500 (7-6) at home for the first time this season. In fact, Sunday was just the second time the Lightning has won back-to-back games at home.

"It's very important for us to stay consistent at home," Tortorella said. "That's the biggest thing we can take out of this."

"There's no worse feeling than losing at home," Brad Richards said. "This was a big game to win at home. We wanted to do it for the fans but also do it for ourselves."

The Lightning plays four of its next six at home.

ST. LOUIS STAYS HOT: Marty St. Louis' late third-period goal was his fourth in as many games. He has nine points - he assisted on Richards' winner - in his past four games.

St. Louis' team-high 15th goal tied him at sixth in the league with Washington's Alex Ovechkin.

STILL IMPORTANT: Although this game was the first of four regular-season meetings between the Senators and the Lightning, it was still a difficult loss for Ottawa.

"We don't want to watch the standings already, but it's still a big game because it's a team we're going to be fighting for a spot with," forward Jason Spezza said.

ODDS AND ENDS: The win gave Tampa Bay 27 points, tying it for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with the Islanders. ... The Lightning was 1-for-4 on the power play and killed both of Ottawa's man advantages. ... Wing Daniel Alfredsson's seven-game point streak ended, as did center Mike Fisher's six-game point streak for the Senators.

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.

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