St. Louis sparks Lightning past Senators

Greg Auman, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Shut out in their two previous games, the Tampa Bay Lightning found scoring from right winger Martin St. Louis and bounced back with a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"We had life today. We had our legs going, played a North-South game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said in improving to 17-10-1 on the season before an announced crowd of 16,562. "Those guys were humming, and it was really good to see."
The Lightning continue to play short-handed, with two defensemen leaving Thursday's game with injuries -- Victor Hedman is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while Keith Aulie is out indefinitely after fracturing his hand and will require surgery. That brings the injured count to nine players for Tampa Bay.
Just seconds after missing wide and high with a shot in the first period, St. Louis opened the scoring with 3:15 left in the period with an assist by left winger Ondrej Palat.
Ottawa (11-14-4) answered on a power play with 13:49 remaining in the second period, scoring off a faceoff as defenseman Patrick Wiercioch turned and flicked the puck to goaltender Ben Bishop's right to tie the score at 1.
St. Louis scored again for his 12th goal of the season -- on another assist by Palat -- as he poked the puck loose on the baseline, then sped toward the crease as Palat sent a pass to him for a quick goal past Senators goalie Robin Lehner. Palat entered the game with three assists this season and had two in the game.
"Obviously Pally made some great plays on those goals just to find me," St. Louis said. "If he doesn't make those plays, I don't score the goals. It's a team effort and we were going to attack the paint and make something happen."
Tampa Bay got strong play in the net from Bishop, who moved into a tie for third in the league with his 15th win, two off the NHL lead of Chicago's Corey Crawford. Bishop did it against the team that traded him to Tampa Bay in April after 11 wins in two seasons as a backup.
"I don't think they had too many Grade A (chances) there in the second, but they had a couple," said Bishop, who faced 18 shots in the second period but allowed only one to score. "I thought the guys did a good job of staying the course and getting a couple of goals."
Outshot by the Senators from the start, the Lightning held a one-goal lead until center Valtteri Filppula broke away down the right side and scored through Lehner's legs with 9:02 left in the game. It's the Lightning's third straight win against Ottawa in Tampa, following a two-game home sweep last season.
"We made a couple of mistakes in the defensive zone and they took advantage of them," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "It's a pretty good player for them that we left alone in front of the net on two occasions, and it makes it hard for the goaltender."
Tampa Bay hadn't scored in more than a week, since a 4-2 home win over the Philadelphia Flyers, getting shut out by the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets since. Ottawa outshot the Lightning 33-22 but Tampa Bay was more efficient in converting those opportunities.
NOTES: RW Martin St. Louis' goal with 3:15 left in the opening period helped the Lightning avoid threatening the longest scoreless drought in team history. Tampa Bay, coming off shutout losses against Pittsburgh and Columbus, went 137 minutes and 19 seconds between goals, still more than a period short of the team's record of 166:34, set in March 2000. ... Under the league's new scheduling model, the Lightning and Senators will play five times this season as division rivals. That matches Detroit as the opponent Tampa Bay will face the most often this season, with the other five divisional rivals playing the Lightning four times. ... Ottawa returns home to face Toronto on Saturday and Tampa Bay stays home to face Winnipeg on Saturday. ... Lightning G Ben Bishop went up against the team he played for until Ottawa traded him to Tampa Bay in April. He beat the Senators just a week later in a 3-2 win. He already won more games this season (14) than in his two years as a backup in Ottawa (11).

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