By Matt Beardmore
Ottawa (32-32-10) at Tampa Bay (24-34-17) 6:00 p.m. EDT
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — The Ottawa Senators haven’t missed the
playoffs since 1995-96. It appears that streak is going to end
Coming off their second consecutive loss, the Senators look to
keep their slight playoff hopes alive Sunday night at the St.
Pete Times Forum against the lowly Tampa Bay Lightning.
Following its 9-1-0 stretch from March 5-22, Ottawa (32-32-10)
knew it had to win nearly every game to keep its postseason
dreams going. But with Saturday’s 6-3 loss at Atlanta, the
Senators – 12th in the Eastern Conference – dropped 12 points
behind eighth-place Montreal for the final spot.
“We played a decent first period, made good goals,” Senators
center Jason Spezza said. “Had a horrible second period, and
they just outplayed us after that.”
Spezza had two goals and an assist. He needs one goal to reach
30 for the third straight season.
Ryan Shannon, meanwhile, looks to extend his point streak to
five after recording a goal and an assist against the Thrashers.
The third-year right wing has goals in three straight games to
go with an assist during his run.
In the last matchup with the Lightning on March 11, Shannon
scored the Senators’ first goal in a 3-2 overtime victory.
Brian Elliott made 22 saves in that win, but the rookie did not
fare as well Saturday, getting pulled in the second period after
allowing four goals on just 21 shots.
“By no means was it (Brian’s) fault,” said Ottawa coach Cory
Clouston, whose team fell to 1-2-0 on its six-game trip. “They
wanted it more than we did. It’s hard to explain that. The
effort just wasn’t consistent enough at times.”
Alex Auld stopped nine of 11 shots he faced as Elliott’s
replacement. Auld made 32 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the
Lightning on Nov. 1 in Tampa.
The Lightning (24-34-17) have struggled at home lately, dropping
nine of 11. Tampa Bay, 1-2-3 in its last six overall, returns
home following back-to-back losses at Montreal and Washington.
The Lightning, who are six points ahead of the New York
Islanders for the East’s worst record, rallied from a two-goal
first-period deficit against the Capitals, but fell 5-3 on
“We played hard tonight,” said veteran Martin St. Louis.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the result. But I think if we play
like that with that kind of desperation and intensity game-in
and game-out, we’d be very happy.”
St. Louis, who has a team-leading 77 points, notched an assist
and scored two goals to tie Vincent Lecavalier for the team lead
with 29. St. Louis has nine goals and 14 assists in his last 18
games, but just one assist in three matchups with the Senators
Steven Stamkos continues his impressive rookie season after
scoring a goal against Washington. The 19-year-old center has
nine goals and seven assists in his last 15 games.
Stamkos, selected first overall in last year’s draft, is still
looking for his first point against Ottawa.