Senators start fast, hold off Lightning

Don Brennan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- In the hours leading up to Saturday's visit by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean admitted to having a "concern" about his team's slow starts in afternoon games.
"There must be something to it if we're talking about it. I don't disagree ... 2 p.m. must be our nap time," said MacLean. "We've addressed it, we've talked about it, and this is another opportunity to set it straight."
Mission accomplished, but now they have to work on their finishes.
The Senators rebounded from Thursday's last-minute loss to Boston by scoring four first-period goals, then hanging on to defeat the Lightning 5-3 in front of 20,016 fans at Scotiabank Place.
Robin Lehner lost his shutout when Tampa's Tyler Johnson scored with 8:23 remaining in the third. Johnson added another one just over two minutes later and Ted Purcell made things interesting with 1:59 left, but Daniel Alfredsson's second goal of the game into an empty net sealed the victory.
"It probably was expected before the game started," Alfredsson said of the close final score, as 20 of the Senators' 31 games have been decided by one goal. "All in all, it was about getting the two points. Obviously, that first period really set it up for us and I thought we played good throughout the game. But that's just the way sports are. When one team gets momentum it's not as easy to stop as you think."
Jakob Silfverberg had a goal and an assist, while Eric Gryba, with his first goal in the NHL, and Guillaume Latendresse had the other tallies.
Marc Methot and Kyle Turris each had two assists.
"Any time you're up 4-0 after the first period, the test now is to continue to play," said MacLean. "We were obviously pleased with how we started the game, and as the game wore on it got harder and harder for us to stay playing. That's focus and intensity.
"We did a better job in the last minute."
Johnson's goals were his second and third of the season.
"Obviously it wasn't enough," said the 22-year old center, who was playing in his sixth game and is filling in on the second line for the injured Vinny Lecavalier. "We played better in the game, but we just let it go on too late, being in that big of a hole."
Each team wound up with 32 shots on goal.
Silfverberg's eighth goal, off a deflection from the edge of the crease, and Gryba's milestone blast came 1:40 part on the second side of the midway mark. Latendresse scored less than three minutes later from a sharp angle, giving him four goals in 13 games.
Alfredsson added his first goal of the game and eighth of the season just 10 seconds before the intermission.
The Senators delayed the comeback attempt by holding Steven Stamkos, the NHL's leading goal scorer, to just one shot on goal.
"We came back, but it's about wins in this league," said Stamkos. Obviously, it wasn't good enough.
"We just didn't execute and we turned the puck over. You can't give a team a 4-0 lead and expect to win games in this league."
It was the second consecutive loss for the Lightning, who are in Winnipeg to face the Jets Sunday.
The Senators have a day off, then host the New York Islanders Monday.
NOTES: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar set a new Senators franchise record by picking up an assist in his 10th straight game. The previous record of nine games was held by Alfredsson and Jason Spezza ... Tampa coach Guy Boucher made a goaltending change just past the 17-minute mark of the first period, replacing starter Mathieu Garon with Cedrick Desjardins after the Senators scored their third goal on their 11th shot ... Taking part in the pre-game warmup was newly-signed 6-foot-8 Lightning defenseman Andrej Suster, who's expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday at home against Buffalo. Boucher plans to "ease" him into the lineup and give him limited minutes by dressing seven defensemen ... Enforcer Matt Kassian had his first fight in his fifth game as a Senator when he put a beating on B.J. Crombeen in the opening period ... The Lightning entered the day with a goals-per-game average of 3.27 that was tied for second in the NHL.

What to Read Next