Ottawa Senators bounce back big with win over Lightning


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It’s puzzling how the Ottawa Senators can look so bad at times – sometimes they’re just plain awful – then play like they did Monday night.

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After losing to a couple of the NHL’s worst teams (5-1 to Anaheim Thursday and 3-2 to Chicago Saturday), the Senators bounced back big in Tampa Bay on Monday night, beating the Lightning 4-2.

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How did they do it?

It started with muzzling Tampa winger Nikita Kucherov, who went into Monday’s game with a league-leading 94 points (40 on the power play) and 234 shots on goal. On Monday, he was a minus-2, with no points and no shots.

“We had a good effort, we played smart,” said Senators head coach Jacques Martin. “They’ve got some high-powered forwards, we did a pretty good job of neutralizing them.”

“This was big,” said Tim Stutzle, who had a goal and an assist for the Senators. “With the players (the Lightning) has, they’re going to get chances. We did a good job, all five on the ice, trying to stay above them.”

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Another key: Good goaltending. Anton Forsberg was in net for Ottawa and was very good in the limited number (25) of shots the Lightning had. Ottawa’s defenceman, particularly Jacob Bernard-Docker, did a good job of getting in front of Tampa shots.

“It was hectic at the start,” said Forsberg. “I had really good help from the guys; they really fought hard out there.”

“(Forsberg) played strong from the start,” said Martin. “He made key saves, especially early in the game. The first five minutes we were kind of scrambling.”

The Senators took a 1-0 lead with 9:15 in the first period when Stutzle dragged the puck back against the grain and fired a shot past Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Claude Giroux set up Mathieu Joseph on a 2-on-1 and he gave the Senators a 2-0 lead with 6:25 left in the first.

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After a steal at his own blue line, Joseph sped down the right-side boards and scored his second goal of the game with 4:11 left in the second period.

Mitchell Chaffee scored for Tampa with 3:05 left in the second.

Vladimir Tarasenko knocked in a rebound to make it 4-1 early in the final period.

One of the few Senators’ breakdowns cost Ottawa a goal as Brayden Point made it 4-2 with a bit more than five minutes left.

Next up for the Senators is a Tuesday road game against Florida.

“If we play the same way as we did tonight, we have a good chance to win every night,” said Stutzle.

LINE JUGGLING

Senators captain Brady Tkachuk had new linemates. Centre Shane Pinto and Tarasenko lined up with Tkachuk. Centre Josh Norris lined up with Ridly Greig on his left side and Drake Batherson on the right.

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“We’re trying to get more stability on each line,” said Senators coach Jacques Martin following the morning skate. “(Stutzle’s) line played really well the last game. We’re trying to give the other lines a boost.”

“I really enjoy being out there with Greiger,” said Norris. “I really like the way he plays, with a lot of skill and grit as well.”

ICE CHIPS

Asked about the team’s stumbles the past couple of games, Martin said: “We need to do a better job of getting to the net and taking the goalie’s eyes away. That will help us score 5-on-5.” Asked about the Lightning in advance of Monday’s game, Martin said: “When you play against good teams, you have to try to play them in the neutral zone, give them good gaps and not give them the blue line. We need to force them to dish the puck in the neutral zone.” … Bernard-Docker fought Tampa forward Michael Eyssimont with a bit less than two minutes into the second period … Stutzle joined Martin Havlat as the only Senators players to have three 50-point seasons before the age of 23 … Norris had to struggle to the bench on his knees after breaking a skate blade near the midway point of the third period.

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