Holmqvist made 22 saves to win for the eighth time in his last nine starts, leading the Lightning past the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Sunday.
“That’s how you win a lot of games in the league, your goaltender,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. “He’s just on a little bit of a roll here. We’re trying to grab points here, and he’s done a great job for us. Johan stood tall.”
Holmqvist, who played the previous two years in Sweden, made a sliding pad save on Joseph Corvo’s in-close shot in the second.
Holmqvist appeared in only four NHL games from 2000-03, going 0-3-0 with the New York Rangers. This season he was expected to back up Marc Denis, acquired from Columbus in June.
“I’m just happy to play,” Holmqvist said. “The biggest thing was to get focused on our own game.”
Filip Kuba and Brad Richards scored 36 seconds apart midway through the second period for the Lightning, who have won three straight and seven of 10. Tampa Bay also got a power-play goal from Martin St. Louis with 1:18 left.
Jason Spezza scored for the Senators, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
“I thought their goalie made some big saves,” Spezza said.
The Lightning had lost eight straight regular-season games to Ottawa, dating to a 2-1 win in Ottawa on March 1, 2003. This was the first meeting between the teams since the Senators beat Tampa Bay in five games in an Eastern Conference quarter-final playoff series last season.
“This is a different year,” Richards said. “We have a different team, new faces. Sometimes, teams match up well against other teams. They’ve got a pretty speedy team, so it’s tough for everyone to play against them.”
Kuba tied it at 1 at 10:28 of the second. Richards then gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead from the slot with 8:56 left in the period.
Spezza put the Senators ahead 1-0 from the top of the right circle at 3:34 of the first. Dany Heatley, who has two assists and five points in the past two games, assisted on the goal.
Ottawa’s Andrej Meszaros hit the post and Heatley had a backhander stopped by Holmqvist midway through the third.
“We came out hard in the third, and they played pretty well with the lead,” Ottawa defenceman Wade Redden said. “We got a few chances, we were buzzing and skating, but we couldn’t get one by him.”
Notes: Senators D Anton Volchenkov (lower body injury) didn’t play. … St. Louis also had an assist, and has five assists and nine points during a four-game point streak. … Senators RW Daniel Alfredsson had his seven-game point streak end. He had three goals and five assists during the stretch.