For the first time since Nov. 11, the Senators worked themselves
into the playoff picture with a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay
Lightning on Thursday.
The win, in front of 19,757 fans at Canadian Tire Centre, moved
Ottawa (24-20-10) into the last wild-card spot in the extremely
tight Eastern Conference standings.
"It's incredible, you win a couple and you're looking at that eighth
seed, and then if you get one or two the other way, you're looking
at the 12 seed," said winger Bobby Ryan, who had a goal and an
assist for Ottawa. "That transition right now is so much. But I
think if we stick to our structure and take care of our points, the
rest will play itself out.
"The scoreboard hasn't been kind to us either. You look at the other
teams and they're finding ways to win, too, so it's going to be a
The Lightning (31-18-5) suffered their second consecutive defeat.
They also lost star goalie Ben Bishop, who left with a possible
concussion after a collision in the second minute of the game. Out
of his crease chasing a puck, Bishop was kicked in the back of the
head by Tampa Bay defenseman Nikita Kucherov.
After the game, Bishop reported his condition was not as bad as
"I feel better now," he said. "(At the time), I didn't feel very
good. I had a little bit of a headache, but it's gotten better,
though. No dizziness, I just felt real weak after I got hit.
Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow and feel good. Hopefully I'll be
able to practice."
Center Kyle Turris also had a goal and an assist for the Senators,
while defensemen Marc Methot and Erik Karlsson and center Zack Smith
each scored once.
Senators center Jason Spezza chipped in with two assists.
Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson made 35 saves for his 18th win of the
Centers Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson and defenseman Victor Hedman
scored for Tampa Bay. Hedman added an assist, while Tampa Bay winger
Ondrej Palat added two assists.
Goalie Anders Lindback stopped 23 of 27 shots after replacing
The goalie switch was a blessing for the Senators, who were winless
and scored a total of six goals in three previous games against
Bishop, their former teammate.
"We know there's a guy going in there that's cold," Spezza said of
Lindback. "As much as the backups say they prepare themselves, it's
pretty hard to do night in and night out when Bish has been carrying
most of the load.
"We know we have to try and get on Lindback early. We know he's a
good goalie, but he's going in there cold. It does make you go at him
a little bit."
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The goals by Methot and Karlsson gave the Senators a 2-0 lead, but
Killorn got the Lightning close at 3:10 of the second period when
his shot from the slot deflected off Senators winger Milan Michalek
and squeaked through the pads of Anderson.
Smith restored Ottawa's two-goal lead a little more than three
minutes later with a high shot from the slot that went off the post
and in off Lindback's back.
Ryan made a great play to set up Turris late in the middle period.
At the blue line, he tipped the puck around Tampa Bay defenseman
Mark Barberio, then fended off Hedman before one-handing a pass to
Turris, who whipped it past Lindback.
Ryan scored his 20th of the season at 6:55 of the third on a setup
by Turris before Johnson answered with a short-handed goal at the
Hedman's goal came on a snapshot from the high slot with 2:52 left
in the game and Lindback on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.
Anderson had to withstand a furious push by the Lightning in the
final minutes to preserve the victory.
"It's a big blow, no doubt, but that's hockey," Lightning winger
Martin St. Louis said of losing Bishop. "We just didn't really give
ourselves a chance consistently.
"I thought we battled really hard in the last three minutes when we
pulled our goalie. I know we had an extra guy, but the desperation
... came too late I guess."
NOTES: G Anders Lindback served as the Lightning backup the previous
seven games before entering Thursday. ... Senators C Jason Spezza
entered the night with a minus-20 that had him tied for the sixth
worst plus-minus in the league. He was a plus-1 against the
Lightning. Spezza, who started the season with a career plus-80, has
not scored an even-strength goal since Nov. 24. ... Injured
Lightning F Steven Stamkos skated again with his teammates Thursday
morning at Canadian Tire Centre, but there is still no timetable for
his return. Stamkos has missed the last 37 games with a broken leg
he suffered Nov. 11 in Boston. "Eventually it's going to have to
come down to a situation where he has to start battling with guys in
the corner, just to see how those instinctive moments go, and is he
going to feel it," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. ... The
second-period goal scored by Senators C Kyle Turris was his eighth
in the past 10 games.
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