OTTAWA — Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan was an innocent bystander Thursday night when he was assaulted by Ottawa's Zack Smith.
Smith slashed Callahan in the back of the leg, punched him in the face.
Callahan did not retaliate. Instead, with Smith in the penalty box, he scored the winner in Tampa Bay's 5-4 victory over the Senators at the Canadian Tire Center.
"That was good," Callahan said, "especially when he takes a couple of shots at you."
The thing was, an angry Smith went after the wrong player. Seconds earlier, he had been plowed over by Ondrej Palat.
"I didn't mean to do anything bad," Palat said.
And Tampa Bay (39-24-7) won its fifth straight game to match its season best and has points in seven straight.
"It's reassuring," right wing Teddy Purcell said. "We're separating ourselves from other teams in our division. It's a good sign. We're finding ways to win."
Purcell, who had not scored in 19 previous games, scored twice as the Lightning broke a five-game losing streak in Ottawa. Valtteri Filppula, who turned 30 on Thursday, scored his 23rd to tie his career high, and defenseman Eric Brewer got his first goal of the season with a high, short-side backhand coach Jon Cooper said had "a high degree of difficulty."
Goaltender Ben Bishop made 27 saves against his former team for his 34th win, though he bemoaned allowing at least three goals for the eighth time in his past nine games.
But the game's most interesting story was Callahan, whose snap-shot, power-play goal with 8:02 left in the third period gave the Lightning a 5-3 lead.
Things got nervous when Milan Michalek's deflection made it 5-4 with 2:52 remaining, and palms got downright sweaty when Callahan, with 55.5 seconds left, was called for slashing.
With an empty net, Ottawa had a six-on-four advantage.
But the Senators got just one shot on goal. Steven Stamkos won an enormous faceoff in the Lightning zone with 6.7 seconds left, and Callahan breathed a sigh of relief.
"Way too long," he said of his time in the box.
Tampa Bay consistently had trouble clearing pucks from the defensive zone in the game. And Ottawa's Ales Hemsky made defensemen Radko Gudas and Matt Carle look bad with a behind-the-back, through-his-legs move and a deke to his forehand that resulted in a goal with 2:28 left in the second period that cut the Lightning lead to 4-3.
Even so, "what I really liked is we pressed," Cooper said. "We were good in the neutral zone, and we got some offensive zone time."
Callahan got a bruise on the back of his leg from Smith's slash.
First—1, TB, Purcell 11 (Hedman, Johnson), :23. 2, Ott, MacArthur 21 (Turris), 10:44 (sh). 3, TB, Purcell 12 (Hedman, Johnson), 12:38. 4, Ott, E.Karlsson 18 (Hoffman, Spezza), 13:07 (pp). Penalties—Condra, Ott (tripping), 5:34; Carle, TB (hooking), 8:35; Michalek, Ott (holding), 10:32; Thompson, TB (tripping), 13:04; Ceci, Ott (high-sticking), 15:33; MacArthur, Ott (cross-checking), 19:06; Callahan, TB (goaltender interference), 19:35.
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Second—5, TB, Filppula 23 (Palat, Salo), 5:43 (pp). 6, Ott, Hemsky 11 (Michalek), 17:32. Penalties—Ryan, Ott (interference), 4:57; Callahan, TB (high-sticking), 19:26.
Third—7, TB, Brewer 1 (Brown, Killorn), 3:48. 8, TB, Callahan 13 (Palat, Salo), 11:58 (pp). 9, Ott, Michalek 13 (E.Karlsson, Spezza), 17:08. Penalties—Gudas, TB (roughing), 7:41; MacArthur, Ott (roughing), 7:41; Z.Smith, Ott (slashing), 11:04; Callahan, TB (slashing), 19:04. Shots on Goal—TB 11-10-7—28. Ott 10-10-11—31. Power-play opportunities—TB 2 of 6; Ott 1 of 5. Goalies—TB, Bishop 34-11-6 (31 shots-27 saves). Ott, Lehner 7-14-5 (28-23).