OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators look at the Tampa Bay Lightning as the team they want to become.
Saturday afternoon the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning beat the Senators 5-3 as their experience and patience paid off.
"When you watch them, they're complete players all over the ice," said Senators coach D.J. Smith. "They're above the puck. They don't give anything. They just keep working and that's the challenge for our guys is that with as much skill as we have, we have to learn the other side of the puck and we continue to get better and we will."
The Senators held their own for much of the game, but a couple of third-period defensive breakdowns allowed Tampa to leave with the two points.
Steven Stamkos scored his sixth goal of the season to break a 2-2 tie midway through the third period. Stamkos was left alone at the side of the net as Victor Mete had a defensive breakdown, and he buried the loose puck.
Palat scored late in the third as he was able to break in alone on Murray and the goal turned out to be the winner. Anthony Cirelli added an empty-net goal for insurance.
Moments before the Palat goal Nick Paul hit the crossbar, which had it gone in might have resulted in a very different finish. Logan Shaw scored with 16 seconds remaining to make it 5-3.
"I think we just kept patient with our game," said Victor Hedman. "We had some good looks. We didn't sit back, we were active. Some good chances and guys made some great plays there at the end. (Cirelli) and (Palat) finding each other a couple times, and obviously (Stamkos) driving the net…that was a big, tie-breaking goal.”
Hedman and Jan Rutta also scored for the Lightning (6-3-2). Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots. Tampa Bay has recorded points in five straight games (4-0-1).
"It was a big thing for us to come out in the third and not change, not chase the game, even with it tied," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We didn't and got rewarded for it.”
Connor Brown and newly appointed captain Brady Tkachuk and scored for Ottawa (3-7-1). Matt Murray made 29 saves.
Tkachuk felt the team played a solid, but incomplete game -- and that was the difference.
"We played a very mature hockey team and they just kept playing their game for the whole 60 minutes," he said. "I think we can learn from their team, they're a two-time defending Stanley Cup champ and work to the very end so I definitely think we can learn from that."
Saturday marked the first game as captain for Tkachuk and the 22-year-old admitted it was a little emotional. Making the day more special was the fact his mom was in town for a visit and in the stands.
"I was definitely overwhelmed with all the support throughout the whole night and I really appreciate all the support from the fans, but like I said yesterday it’s not just going to be one person," he said. "It’s going to be a group of us, it’s going to be the whole team."
Trailing 1-0, Connor Brown tied the game early in the second on a fantastic effort at the end of a long shift. Brown forced a turnover inside the zone , drove to the net and beat Elliott high.
"That was his best game of the year by far," Smith said. "He worked. Second effort was there, he was all over the place. He just looked confident, he made plays. He was really good. When Connor Brown plays like that, he can help carry a line for us and that gives us another threat."
Tampa thought they had regained the lead shortly after, but the goal was waived off due to goaltender interference. The Lightning lost the ensuing challenge, but had a great chance shorthanded as Mathieu Joseph broke in alone only to be stopped by Murray.
Tampa made it 2-1 at the halfway mark of the period as Rutta fired a shot through the slot.
With under a minute remaining in the period Batherson showed great patience as he slid a puck through Rutta and Ryan McDonough to Tkachuk who buried a one-timer to tie the game 2-2.
The Lightning opened the scoring with a power-play goal by Hedman, his first of the season. Hedman fired a shot from the blue line and it was tipped by Ottawa's Josh Brown leaving Murray with little chance to stop it.
Notes: Michael Del Zotto was a healthy scratch for the Senators, while Tyler Ennis missed the game with a non-Covid related illness. Mikhail Sergachev served the first of his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Toronto’s Mitch Marner.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2021.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press