TAMPA, Fla. – Milan Michalek surpassed the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career in an unusual way.
Michalek scored three third-period goals, helping the Ottawa Senators withstand a Tampa Bay comeback attempt and beat the Lightning 7-3 on Tuesday night.
Ottawa, which took a three-goal lead early on, went up 5-3 when Michalek scored a power-play goal at 12:12 of third. The left wing added two empty-net goals, including a short-handed effort with 7 seconds left to give him a career-best 32 goals this season.
“That’s great for him,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said. “I think he’s always been a player of that potential and the injuries that he’s had kind of slowed him down. We’re really happy for him. To reach that plateau, it’s really a credit to him and his hard work.”
Michalek’s previous high for goals was 26, set while with San Jose in 2006-07. He also had a hat trick against Tampa Bay on Oct. 15, 2009.
Tampa Bay got within 4-3 when Steven Stamkos scored his league-leading 48th goal of the season during a power play at 5:41 of the third. The centre has five goals and three assists during a five-game point streak.
Sergei Gonchar, Colin Greening, Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson had the other Ottawa goals. Michalek also had an assist, setting up Greening’s goal with a nifty pass from behind the net.
Senators defenceman Chris Phillips left in the first with a broken nose after a centre-ice hit.
“Right now, it’s open to evaluation,” MacLean said. “He had to get it reset. We’ll just to see how he gets through it.”
Ryan Shannon and Tim Wallace also scored for the Lightning, who had won four in a row. Teddy Purcell assisted on Stamkos’ goal and has 14 assists and 20 points during a career-high 10-game point streak.
Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon left four minutes into the game with an undisclosed lower body injury after making a save and was replaced by Dwayne Roloson. Garon, who had gone 12-3-2 in his previous 17 starts, appeared to get hurt when he kicked out his leg on the play.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Garon will have an MRI on Wednesday.
“He’s been playing well for us,” Stamkos said. “It was tough.”
Greening and Turris scored 53 seconds apart late in the first as Ottawa took a 3-0 lead. Greening scored from the low slot, while Turris’ shot went off Tampa Bay defenceman Brett Clark.
Gonchar stopped a personal 43-game goal drought, dating back to Nov. 12 against Toronto, to put Senators up 1-0 midway through the first.
The Lightning got within 3-2 in the opening 7:12 of the second when Shannon and Wallace scored on 6-foot-7 Ben Bishop, who was making his Senators debut. Bishop was acquired from St. Louis for a 2013 second-round draft pick on Feb. 26.
“When they score seven goals, it helps,” said Bishop, who made 25 saves. “The guys played good in front of me.”
Karlsson made it 4-2 on a power-play goal at 11:58 of the second. The defenceman has 16 goals and 67 points this season.
The Senators won the season series 4-0, outscoring Tampa Bay 19-6.
“We can’t seem to beat those guys,” Boucher said.
Ottawa is without goalie Craig Anderson, who is sidelined by a hand injury. He won all three of the Senators’ previous games this season with the Lightning, allowing just three goals overall.
Notes: Boucher feels both Ottawa power-play goals came after plays that should have not resulted in penalties. … Roloson finished with 25 saves. … The NHL fined Karlsson $2,500 for slashing Florida’s Sean Bergenheim during a game on Sunday. … Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman was in the lineup after missing four games due to an upper body injury. … In 10 games against Tampa Bay, Anderson is 6-1-2 with three shutouts and an 1.24 goals-against-average. … Lightning D Marc-Andre Bergeron is scheduled to have back surgery on Wednesday. … Shannon’s goal was his first in 19 games.