Stamkos sticks it to Senators
Paces Lightning attack with 2 power-play goals in 5-2 victory
Perhaps it was the bad ice or playing on consecutive nights. Or, maybe Senators players are guilty of taking their pre-game nap in the Tampa Bay sun.
Whatever the case, Ottawa didn't have its legs until the third period Thursday night in a 5-2 loss to the Lightning, who snapped a four-game winless skid against the Senators.
Steven Stamkos, meanwhile, displayed plenty of energy, scored a pair of power-play goals and added an assist to extend his points streak to six games, matching his career high set last March.
"He's emerging as a leader," Tampa Bay head coach Rick Tocchet said of Stamkos, the first overall pick in the 2008 NHL entry draft. "I'm not going to put too much pressure on him. For a 19-year old, a pretty good player."
Ryan Malone, Todd Fedoruk and Alex Tanguay, who ended a 12-game goal drought dating back to April 4, also scored as the 4-3-3 Lightning avenged a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Ottawa on Oct. 15 and improved to 4-0-2 on home ice.
Stamkos, who overcame a slow start in his rookie campaign a year ago to post 17 goals and 25 points in his final 28 games, has nine goals and 14 points in 10 contests this season.
"I'm feeling really confident on the ice," the six-foot-one, 196-pound centre said. "Feeling better than it was last year. I want to be out there touching the puck and making some plays. It's working so far and I just want keep it up."
Stamkos leads the team in goals and power-play markers with five, and is tied with Martin St. Louis for the team scoring lead.
Playing in his 700th NHL game, St. Louis, who has caught the attention of Canadian Olympic hockey officials with his strong start, helped set up Stamkos's opening goal at 7:20 of the first period and has at least one point in all 10 games. He also missed the net to the right on short-handed penalty shot midway through the second.
Stamkos's redirection of Vincent Lecavalier's shot went into the net off Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba. He gave the Lightning a 4-0 lead at 7:09 of the third from the low right circle after a nifty stickhandling move.
"He's a gifted goal scorer," Tanguay said. "It's fun to watch, for sure."
Besides the power play, Tampa Bay dominated in the faceoff circle — winning 59 per cent of the draws — and was relentless on the forecheck, led by fourth-liners Steve Downie, Zenon Konopka and Fedoruk.
"I don't know if it's fatigue," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said. "I think that first goal almost set the tone for the game. It was a power-play goal on a penalty that they high-sticked themselves. Those are hard to take."
Ruutu breaks shutout bid
The defensive tandem of Mattias Ohlund and rookie Victor Hedman kept the Senators' top line in check, while Mike Smith turned aside 21 of 23 shots to even his season record at 2-2.
Jarkko Ruutu spoiled Smith's shutout bid midway through the first period on a one-time blast for his second goal in as many nights.
Brian Elliott made 22 saves in the Ottawa net, his first loss in three games against Tampa Bay, but didn't get much support from his teammates who were outworked in their own zone.
Elliott got the nod over starter Pascal Leclaire, who left Wednesday's game in the first period with flu-like symptoms.
The Senators also played without injured centre Jason Spezza (back) and defenceman Anton Volchenkov (elbow), whose shot-blocking skills were missed greatly on the penalty-kill.
Ottawa will take a 6-3-2 record into Saturday's game against the Atlanta Thrashers, the opener of a four-game homestand.
With files from The Associated Press