OTTAWA-- Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 24 saves & forward Yanni Gourde recorded three points as the Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their 60th win of the season with a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. Gourde's two goals & assist was matched by the three points registered by forward Nikita Kucherov, bringing his league leading total to 125 points.
Tampa Bay entered the game playing without three of its top defenseman, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman & Dan Girardi. Meanwhile barring a minor miracle, Ottawa entered the game knowing they will finish the season with the lowest point total of any team in the league.
Three minutes into the first period, the Lightning were able to register their first shot on net. And with a speedy rush by forward Yanni Gourde, who was playing on a line with center Brayden Point & Kucherov, the Lightning were able to score the game's first goal. Gourde push the puck into the offensive zone. And after some good work behind the net by Gourde & Point, the puck came out front to Kucherov, who came down the right side & hit Gourde with a pass, who then tapped the puck into an open net for his 21st goal of the year.
The Lightning 1-0 lead lasted until just over a minute was left in the period. But that's when on a sloppy change by the Lightning, the Senators were able to tie the score at one on a wrist shot by forward Brady Tkuachuk, beating Vasilevskiy through his pads.
The first period ended with Ottawa outshooting Tampa Bay 11 to five. But on their second shot of the period, Tampa Bay took the lead again when, with the help from a screen from Gourde, a wrist shot by defenseman Mikhail Sergachev beat Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson for his sixth goal of the season. And less than six minutes later, Tampa Bay made it a two goal lead when their quickness kept Ottawa from clearing the puck out of their zone, leading to Gourde finding Point with a behind the back pass. And the Lightning center pushed a shot past Anderson for his 41st goal of the season.
The shots on goal in the second period were nearly in reverse of the first period, with the Lightning outshooting the Senators 10-4. And it looked like the Senators were going to mount a comeback when they made it a goal deficit after a slashing penalty on defenseman Cameron Gaunce, who was called up from Syracuse to fill in for one of the injured defenseman. And with Gaunce in the box, who was also given a five minute fighting penalty for an altercation with Senators' forward Zack Smith that followed the slashing, the Senators took advantage of the power play on a shot by forward Max Veronneau, that went off of Vasilevskiy's masked then caromed into the net.
The Senators' comeback lasted all of 48 seconds because Gourde scored his second goal of the game on a high shot off of Anderson after a feed from defenseman Braydon Coburn. And the scoring was capped off with a rush led by forward Ondrej Palat, who pushed a pass to Mathieu Joseph & the rookie forward found center Steven Stamkos, who snapped a shot high over Anderson's glove for his 42nd goal of the season.
Tampa Bay is now two wins away from tying the all-time record for wins in a season set by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. And they look for win number 61 when they travel to Montreal on Tuesday. Coverage begins on News Radio WFLA with pre-game starting at 7pm & the face-off scheduled for 7:30pm.
1. TBL- Gourde 21st Goal (Kucherov, Point)- 12:04
2. OTT- Tkachuk 21st Goal (DeMelo, Pageau)- 18:48
1. TBL- Sergachev 6th Goal (Kucherov, Coburn)- 7:48
2. TBL- Point 41st Goal (Gourde, Kucherov)- 13:43
1. OTT- PPG- Veronneau 2nd Goal (Balcers, Wolanin)- 4:34
2. TBL- Gourde 22nd Goal (Coburn, Sergachev)- 5:22
3. TBL- Stamkos 42nd Goal (Joseph, Palat)- 16:55
1. TBL- Johnson (Hooking 2 Min)- 9:39
1. OTT- Gibbons (Tripping 2 Min)- 8:51
2. OTT- White (Slashing 2 Min)- 15:34
1. OTT- Smith (Fighting 5 Min)- 3:21
2. TBL- Gaunce (Fighting 5 Min)- 3:21
3. TBL- Gaunce (Slashing 2 Min)- 3:21
4. OTT- Tkachuk (Interference 2 Min)- 5:55
5. TBL- Kucherov ( Interference 2 Min)- 6:24
6. TBL- Coburn (Slashing 2 Min)- 9:17