OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Steven Stamkos scored his sixth goal of the season to break a tie midway through the third period and Ondrej Palat added the game-winner with under two minutes to play as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators 5-3 on Saturday.
Victor Hedman, Jan Rutta, and Anthony Cirelli also scored for the Lightning and Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots.
Connor Brown, newly appointed captain Brady Tkachuk, and Logan Shaw scored for Ottawa and Matt Murray made 29 saves.
Stamkos was left alone at the side of the net as Victor Mete had a defensive breakdown and buried the loose puck at 7:32.
Palat scored at 18:19 as he was able to break in alone on Murray, and the goal turned out to be the winner. Cirelli added an empty-net goal at 19:26 before Shaw tipped in a goal for Ottawa 18 seconds later.
“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.”
The Lightning got a break moments before the Palat goal when Nick Paul hit the crossbar and the puck stayed out.
“I think we just kept patient with our game,” Hedman said. “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.”
The Senators look at the Lightning as the team they want to become. Experience helped spell the difference in this one.
“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.”
Trailing 1-0, Brown tied the game for Ottawa 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 up 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 it had regained the lead shortly after, but a goal was waved off due to goaltender interference. The Lightning lost the ensuing challenge.
Tampa made it 2-1 midway through the period when Rutta scored from the slot.
With under a minute remaining in the period, Tkachuk buried a one-timer to tie it 2-2.
The Lightning opened the scoring at 4:27 of the first period with a power-play goal by Hedman, his first goal of the season. Hedman fired a shot from the blueline and it was tipped by Ottawa’s Josh Brown, leaving Murray with little chance to stop it.
Tkachuk felt the Senators 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.”
Lightning: Tampa Bay has recorded points in five consecutive games (4-0-1).
Senators: Michael Del Zotto was a healthy scratch. … Tyler Ennis missed the game with a non-COVID-19 related illness. … Mikhail Sergachev served the first of his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Toronto’s Mitch Marner.
Tampa Bay: Lightning return home to host Carolina on Tuesday night.
Ottawa: Senators travel to Boston for a Tuesday night matchup against the Bruins.
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