TAMPA, Fla – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been fighting their way back into the playoff race in the East, and looked to keep pace when they faced off against Ben Bishop and the Ottawa Senators.
Things got off to a terrible start 3:54 into the first period, when Mathieu Garon extended himself to make a glove save on Erik Karlsson. Garon left the game with a lower body injury and did not return. He is expected to have an MRI and be evaluated on Wednesday.
Dwayne Roloson replaced Garon but allowed three first period goals by Sergei Gonchar, Colin Greening and Kyle Turris.
Tampa Bay had overcome defecits in their previous two games against the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes. Tuesday night, the Lightning came within one goal of the Senators on two occurrences with goals by Ryan Shannon and Tim Wallace to make it 3-2 in the second period and again on tally from Steven Stamkos at the 5:41 mark of the third period that made it 4-3.
For Stamkos, it was his 48th goal of the season and he has tied Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins with 81 points for the scoring lead.
A comeback that seemed to stall after a penalty was called on Stamkos for goaltender interference and Milan Michalek collected his first of three goals on the night giving the Senators a 5-3 advantage.
“I didn’t even think there was any contact on that play,” Stamkos said about the penalty call. “I don’t know what the ref saw. The puck was there; I actually had a pretty good scoring opportunity and thought the puck was in the net.”
As for Michalek, his hat trick gave him a career high 32 goals in a season. “That’s great for him,” MacLean said. “I think he’s always been a player of that potential and the injuries that he’s had kind of slowed him down. We’re really happy for him. To reach that plateau, it’s really a credit to him and his hard work.”
Ottawa also got a goal from top defenseman, Erik Karlsson who leads all defensemen with 67 points (16 goals, 51 assists).
Bishop, who was making his debut with Ottawa after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues, stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced.
“It was good,” Bishop said. “We won. The guys played good in front of me and it’s a bounce-back win for us after losing a couple. I got more comfortable as the game went along and it was my first NHL game in about a year.”
Tampa Bay will need to move their focus forward rather quickly as they remain 10th in the East, four points behind eighth seeded Winnipeg and have a pivotal match-up against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Thursday night.
“We need to start another streak now,” Tom Pyatt said. “There’s a lot of games. We need to get another streak going.”
Victor Hedman returned to the Lightning lineup Tuesday night. Bruno Gervais is listed as day to day with an upper body injury. Due to the injury of Mathieu Garon early in the first period, a move for a goaltender is probable. Options available include Marty Turco,36, who signed a one-year contract with the Bruins but is currently on waivers since he was playing in Europe, or a call up of Dustin Tokarski or Jaroslav Janus from Norfolk is viable