Senators show off their skills
The Lightning fails miserably on its chance to tie the Thrashers atop the division.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published March 25, 2007
TAMPA - How good are the Senators? Let John Tortorella count the ways.
The Lightning coach called Ottawa one of the best teams he has seen defending with its sticks. He noted its quickness, speed and aggressiveness.
"We have to be thinking quicker. We have to be thinking smarter," he said before Saturday night's game. "We have to be ready to skate."
He wasn't kidding as the Senators skated circles around the Lightning in a 7-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Lightning got two goals from defenseman Dan Boyle, who has a career-best 18. Vinny Lecavalier had two assists to become the first Lightning player to reach 100 points.
But Tampa Bay (41-31-4) lost a chance to tie the Thrashers for first in the Southeast Division, and it lost ground in the race for playoff position. Sixth in the East, the Lightning, with 86 points, is just two ahead of the Hurricanes, who are out of the playoffs in ninth.
Tampa Bay also needed a save from goaltender Marc Denis. Victimized by tips and deflections on Ottawa's first three goals, Denis whiffed on Christoph Schubert's shot from a faceoff circle at which he had a clean look.
A turnover in the defensive zone by Ruslan Fedotenko began the sequence.
The goal with 5:43 left in the second period made the score 4-2 and came just 86 seconds after Dany Heatley's tip-in on the power play that broke a 2-2 tie.
Heatley had two goals in the game and has 45 for the season.
When Ottawa's Patrick Eaves scored 2:12 into the third period on a breakaway that began when Boyle and defensive partner Shane O'Brien were caught out of position, Denis was pulled for Karri Ramo.
Denis allowed five goals on 23 shots.
Ramo, filling in for Johan Holmqvist, who missed his second straight game with the flu, played his second NHL game. Both times, he subbed against the Senators, who have won six of seven and are 28-5-7 since losing to the Lightning on Dec. 21.
The first period had just 16 shots (eight for each team), but the action was end to end and, in some cases, physical. The bounces, though, went to the Senators, who had a 2-1 lead with a shot that deflected in off a Lightning player and an incredible deflection by Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead on their first shot 2:38 into the game when Joe Corvo's shot hit the stick of Tampa Bay's Eric Perrin in the slot.
Tampa Bay tied the score with 6:22 left on Boyle's power-play goal.
But the Senators answered with 4:10 left thanks to Alfredsson's hand-eye coordination. Ottawa's captain skated hard down the slot as Heatley threw the puck at the net from the left sideboards.
Alfredsson, covered by defenseman Nolan Pratt, batted the puck out of the air and past Denis.
Boyle made the score 2-2 three minutes into the second period with a slap shot from the point that beat a totally screened Ray Emery to the short side.
Lecavalier set up Boyle's one-timer for his 51st assist and 100th point.