Lightning routed by Senators, learn ‘tough lessons’

Tampa Bay is on a three-game losing streak, having been outscored 15-6 during the stretch.
Ottawa Senators right wing Claude Giroux (28) gets his stick in front of Lightning center Brayden Point (21) to take the puck from him during the first period of Thursday's game in Ottawa.
Ottawa Senators right wing Claude Giroux (28) gets his stick in front of Lightning center Brayden Point (21) to take the puck from him during the first period of Thursday's game in Ottawa. [ JUSTIN TANG | AP ]
Published March 24|Updated March 24

OTTAWA — Alex DeBrincat had two goals and an assist, Brady Tkachuk added another two goals and the Senators routed the Lightning 7-2 Thursday night.

Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev scored for Tampa Bay (42-25-6). Goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 28 shots.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was unimpressed with his team’s performance. He had made it clear to his squad that the Senators love to play off the rush and told them specifically not to feed Ottawa’s rush.

However, he felt his team did that all night long.

“We’re having a bit of a bit of a tough stretch here, but it’s all self-inflicted,” Cooper said. “I’m just not sure when they’re going to learn, but they’re learning tough lessons.”

The Lightning are on a three-game losing streak, having been outscored 15-6 through the stretch.

“I think we’re feeling sorry for ourselves a tiny bit,” admitted Cooper. “Because they know better. That’s what makes it tough is because they know they’re making these mistakes.”

The Senators got a much-needed shot of confidence.

Over their last 10 games, the Senators had gone 3-6-1 and saw their chances at making the postseason become extremely slim.

“It’s big for us,” said Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot. “Obviously, we’ve felt like we’ve been playing some good hockey lately, but obviously not getting the results we wanted.

" … but it just shows that when we stick to what we do and how we play, we have a lot of success and it (showed) tonight … the way we played tonight is exactly how we need to play the rest of the way.”

Derick Brassard, Erik Brannstrom and Austin Watson added the others for Ottawa (35-32-5), while Mads Sogaard made 27 saves.

“It’s nice to get a definitive win for this group,” said DeBrincat. “I thought we played pretty good from start to finish.”

The victory marks Ottawa’s first 35-win season since the 2015-16 campaign.

The Senators dominated play for much of the game, but Tampa Bay was still within striking distance early in the third period.

Sergachev made it a one-goal game 4:10 into the frame with a power-play marker.

But less than two minutes later, Brannstrom had a beautiful end-to-end rush culminating with a shot into the top corner to make it 4-2 for Ottawa. It was only Brannstrom’s second of the season, but the 23-year-old has shown significant improvement and poise throughout the year.

“It’s fun,” admitted Brannstrom. “I want to play offensive hockey and contribute out there so it was nice to see it go in.”

Following the game, Senators head coach D.J. Smith said he felt Brannstom was the team’s best defenseman on the night.

Things went downhill from that point on for the Lightning.

Tkachuk padded the Senators’ edge with a power-play goal at 13:11 and added an empty-net goal 24 seconds later.

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Watson closed the scoring at 14:39 when he spun around and saw his shot beat Elliott.

Trailing 2-0 to start the second, the Lightning cut the deficit in half when Point beat Sogaard on a one-timer from the left faceoff circle.

Ottawa restored its two-goal lead with 1:56 remaining in the period when Brassard scored a power-play goal just as the man advantage was about to expire.

DeBrincat opened the scoring 8:53 into the first period when he took a Drake Batherson pass off the rush and beat Elliott far side.

Just under three minutes later, DeBrincat raced up the ice, spun around to maintain possession and let a shot go that went over Elliot’s shoulder and in.

BY LISA WALLACE, The Canadian Press

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