TAMPA -- Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said he was "happy to see Ryan Malone back," the gritty, gutty version that creates trouble and offense stationed in front of the net. He's still trying to figure out how to get the Lightning back on the ice for the second period, however.
Malone's two third-period goals lifted Tampa Bay to a comeback 6-4 victory on Friday that sent the Ottawa Senators to their first loss, but stretched Tampa Bay's resolve yet again.
Tampa Bay won for the third time in four games this season to lead the Southeast Division with six points, but again was plagued by a miserable second period, forcing yet another comeback.
The Lighting has been outscored 10-1 in the second period this season, but trumped opponents 11-1 in the third.
"The third period wasn't the way we wanted to go," said Ottawa's Kyle Turris.
"We showed great character coming back again, but we can't keep playing like this," said defenseman Victor Hedman, who scored his first goal of the season.
Ottawa entered the game 3-0-0 and atop the Eastern Conference.
"We let up six goals," said Ottawa coach Paul Maclean, "and that's certainly something we didn't want to do. They made it hard for us."
Malone tied the game off a tip in the slot from a Sami Salo blast with 16:21 left in regulation and scored the eventual winner when he seized on a rebound from goaltender Ben Bishop and flicked in his second goal of the season. Boucher said Malone is a better player when he allows his grit to precede his skill.
"You just surround the net and hope it lands on your stick like that," Malone agreed.
Anders Lindbeck had 32 saves in the win.
The teams combined for six goals in a frenzied second period, four from the Senators in taking a 4-3 lead.
Ottawa tied the score, 1-1, on an Erik Condra goal and erupted for two scores in fifteen seconds to lead 3-1 with 5:15 left in the period. But Jason Spezza's goal through a screen and Erik Karlsson's blast from the blue line was followed 15 seconds later by Steven Stamkos' backhand from the slot to cut the margin to 3-2. Ottawa countered with 2:30 left on Turris's score for a 4-2 lead but Hedman's blast from the high slot with 1:50 left pulled Tampa Bay within a goal again.
Tampa Bay used the first of four first-period power plays to take a 1-0 lead as defenseman Matthew Carle flicked in a loose puck bobbled in the crease by backup goaltender Ben Bishop. Tom Pyatt added an empty-netter.
NOTES: The Lightning began a season-longest five-game homestand tonight. ... Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier was presented a silver stick in a pre-game ceremony in recognition of playing his 1,000 NHL game -- all with Tampa Bay -- on Jan. 21. He is the 49th player to reach the mark and one of 29 active. ... Both of defenseman Carle's goals for Tampa Bay have come against Ottawa, albeit nearly five years apart. He played briefly for the team in 2008 before rejoining this season. ... With a first-period assist, rookie Cory Conacher became the first Lightning player to record points in his first four games. ... Ottawa defenseman Mike Lundin (broken finger), left wing Guillame Latendresse did not dress. Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch was a healthy scratch. ... Left wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie, defensemen Brendan Mikkelson and center Dana Tyrell were scratched for Tampa Bay. ... Ben Bishop, the tallest goaltender in NHL history at 6-foot-7, made his first start of the season for Ottawa.