TAMPA, Fla. – Brian Elliott got that elusive first NHL shutout.
After six brushes with his first NHL shutout, Elliott made 20 saves in the Ottawa Senators’ 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.
“That’s what you go for every night, so to finally get one, it feels pretty good,” the rookie goalie said. “I think it’s satisfying for the whole team. We come out – if we’re ahead – a little sloppy in the third and teams have taken advantage of that. I just had to make a couple of saves, and (my teammates) put the puck in the net pretty well tonight.”
Dany Heatley, Ryan Shannon and Jason Spezza scored to help Ottawa, 11th in the Eastern Conference, improve to 10-3-0 in its last 13 games. Tampa Bay has lost three straight and 10 of its last 12.
The win helps Ottawa’s slim playoff hopes, though the Senators are 10 points behind the eighth spot occupied by the Montreal Canadians with 86 points.
“We still aren’t eliminated mathematically,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. “Obviously that’s something that we would like to get, but our focus is one game at a time and whatever happens, happens.”
Heatley scored his team-high 35th goal of the season on a power play 9:45 into the first period, though was more impressed by his goalie’s performance.
“There was a shot here and a shot there that could’ve changed the game,” Heatley said. “(Elliott) made some big saves when the game was still up for grabs.”
Shannon scored at 13:44 on a deflection off a Lightning player.
The goal was originally credited to Nick Foligno. But as Shannon slide the puck through the five-hole of goalie Karri Ramo, Matt Lashoff’s attempt to clear the puck hit Ramo’s leg, sending it back into the net.
Shannon has a four-game goal streak and five-game point streak. He has four goals and two assists in that span.
“Overall it wasn’t one of our better efforts,” Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. “We didn’t play that poorly, we just didn’t generate enough offence and when you don’t score, you don’t win.”
Spezza scored his 30th goal of the season on a late power play in the third, firing a wrister past Ramo’s right side. Daniel Alfredsson assisted on the score, giving him 33 assists in 47 career games against Tampa Bay.
Ottawa also took advantage of the Lightning’s poor play at home, and Clouston will take the road win.
“When you’re able to (shut out your opponent) in another team’s barn, you’ve done something (good),” Clouston said. “It’s nice for a goaltender to have that early lead.”
With seven games remaining, the Senators will need every point to slip into the playoffs. A shutout from their young goalie will help those efforts.
“(Elliott is) going to have a long career in this league,” Ottawa defenceman Chris Phillips said. “It’s nice to be a part of that, but we’re going to keep fighting right to the end and then we’ll see what happens.”
Notes: Elliott is 2-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average against Tampa Bay. … Ramo finished with 26 saves. … Heatley played his 500th career game. … The Lightning recalled RW Brandon Bochenski from Norfolk of the AHL. … The Lightning have an NHL-low 12 home victories.