TAMPA, FL - Despite a furious third period, the Tampa Bay Lightning was unable to dig itself out of an early hole and complete a come back against the Ottawa Senators Friday night at the St. Petersburg Times Forum.
The Bolts, coming off Wednesday nights shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks, came out noticeably flat in the first period, and played most of the second period short handed as the Senators were granted five straight penalties to start the game. Ottawa star Jason Spezza scored a power play goal in the first period, and Bobby Butler scored at full strength in the second frame to give the Senators a 2-0 lead as the Lightning labored to find their energy.
Martin St. Louis would score on a five on three power play early in the third period, cutting the deficit in half and perhaps sparking the Bolts as the Lightning completely dominated the play in the final frame, out-shooting the Senators 20-4 in the last 20 minutes. However, despite the heavy shot disparity St. Louis and company were unable to force another puck past Ottawa's newly acquired net-minder.
Ottawa goaltender Curtis McElhinney has had an interesting couple weeks. Just before the deadline he was traded from the Anaheim Ducks to Tampa Bay in the Dan Ellis deal, but never played a game with the Lightning before being claimed off of waivers by the Senators, and culminating in his first start for Ottawa Friday night against the team that had just tried to acquire him. McElhinney would finish with 34 saves including 19 in the final frame, earning his first win as a member of the Senators club.
With the loss, the Lightning fall four points out of first in the Southeastern division as Washington knocked off Carolina this evening. The Bolts will now hit the road, first heading to Sunrise to take on the division foe Florida Panthers tomorrow night.