Hedman scores in OT, Lightning top Sens 2-1 for 4th straight
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — With everybody chipping in up and down the roster, the Tampa Bay Lightning are making their playoff charge.
Victor Hedman scored with 55 seconds on the clock in overtime and Tampa Bay defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-1 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight victory.
“I think what’s gotten us on this little run here is all teamwork. Everyone is working for each other and everybody plays their role and doing their thing and it pays off at the end,” Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. “It’s all about consistency and right now everyone is doing the work.”
Ottawa goalie Mike Condon made 35 saves and was nothing short of spectacular at times. Still, the Senators had their six-game winning streak snapped.
Brayden Point also scored for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 shots.
“I thought as every period went on we got stronger and stronger and stronger and it was almost like we got a little bit quicker,” coach Jon Cooper said.
Tampa Bay is tied with the New York Islanders for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, one point in front of Toronto. The Islanders currently hold the tiebreaker following a 3-2 victory in overtime at Carolina on Tuesday night. The Maple Leafs lost 7-2 at Florida and fell out of playoff position.
Cooper acknowledged that as stressful as every game is right now, it’s also “a lot of fun.”
Tommy Wingels scored for the Senators, who earned one point and pulled within one of first-place Montreal in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand.
“Every point you put in the bank at this time of year is important, no doubt about it,” Wingels said. “We’re disappointed in one out of two, absolutely, but it’s about racking up those points any way you can.
“The point was important, we’ll take that from it. But the better team, the more deserving team, got the two I think.”
Both teams played a solid game, but it was the Lightning who showed more energy in the third period despite having played the night before in New York.
Ottawa coach Guy Boucher was less than impressed with his team’s performance in the third, especially considering it was coming off two days of rest.
“It looked like the first game after a road trip,” Boucher said. “I thought the second period we started to get better and I thought it would carry into the third period, but it didn’t. We tried to play run and gun with a team that’s much better than us with that. They have more skill than us, and Condon saved us there and got us a point.”
Ottawa was without goaltender Craig Anderson, who is sidelined with a lower-body injury, as is right wing Mark Stone. However, the Senators did get Bobby Ryan back after he missed 11 games with a broken finger, and Kyle Turris returned after sitting out three games with a finger injury.
The game was tied 1-all to start the third and neither team seemed able to grab momentum. Condon made a huge toe save on Nikita Kucherov midway through the period and went on to be even more impressive a couple of minutes later as Tampa Bay had multiple chances but just couldn’t find a way to beat the Ottawa netminder.
Condon’s play had the 16,894 on hand chanting his name in an otherwise lackluster game.
“He was unbelievable. Big saves at big moments,” Wingels said. “There’s a difference between making a save in a 5-1 game and making a save when the game’s on the line and this guy made the save when the game was on the line many times. That’s all you can ask for from your goalie. He was fantastic.”
Ottawa had a great opportunity to win late in the third when Tampa Bay was called for too many men on the ice, but the Senators were unable to capitalize.
The Senators tied the score in the opening minutes of the second when Wingels fired a shot that beat Vasilevskiy stick side.
Both teams had a number of good chances throughout the period, but were unable to capitalize.
The Lightning opened the scoring three minutes into the period when Point jumped on a rebound down low and had a wide-open net.
Tampa Bay nearly scored again in the waning seconds of the period, but Condon managed to reach back and stop the puck from crossing the goal line.
NOTES: The Senators were without Anderson (lower body), Stone (lower body) and D Mark Borowiecki (lower body). Tampa Bay was missing C Tyler Johnson (lower body) and C Cedric Paquette (lower body).
Lightning: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Senators: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.