TAMPA — The streak remains active.
With the Lightning’s 4-3 shootout loss to Ottawa on Monday, Tampa Bay extend its streak of earning a point to nine consecutive games, the longest stretch since the 2003-04 season when the had a streak of 18 consecutive games with a point.
Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman scored on the power play while Nikita Kucherov notched his ninth of the season for the Lightning. Ben Bishop stopped 29 shots
Erik Karlsson had a goal and two assists while Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris also scored for Ottawa. Robin Lehner finished with 35 saves, stopping all three shootout attempts.
Spezza converted the only goal in the shootout.
The consecutive games with a point is the third longest in franchise history, with 13 games in a row the second best accomplished during the 2002-03 season. But since starting the season 5-1 in shootouts, Tampa Bay has lost five of the past six.
“We just pointed in nine straight games, and naturally we would have liked to have two in every one of those,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “But this is one more point than we had (Monday morning) and at this point in the season, you just take them.’’
Tampa Bay was fortunate to get a point out of the game after playing perhaps its worst 30 minutes of hockey in a game this season, with a pair of power play goals able to help get the game to overtime.
“Our first half of that game was not where it needed to be,’’ right wing Ryan Callahan said. “We showed some character and resilience to tie that game, but we get ourselves into trouble having the first half we did like that. It’s mental sharpness, preparation, our battle level was not where it needed to be in the first 30 minutes.’’
The Lightning were sloppy with the puck for most of the first half of the game, including a turnover by Radko Gudas just inside the Tampa Bay zone that led to a Clarke MacArthur breakaway chance 63 seconds into the game. An offensive zone turnover allowed the Senators to transition back with speed that led to Karlsson snapping a wrist shot over Bishop 3:57 into the first period for his 20th goal of the season.
The Lightning then turned the trick on Ottawa when Kucherov forced a turnover in the defensive zone that sprung Tyler Johnson up the ice on a rush. Johnson pulled up at the right circle and sent a pass to an open Kucherov for a quick one-timer to tie the score at 5:07 on Kucherov’s first goal since Jan. 19.
The Senators would then score goals 44 seconds apart in the middle stages of the second period, Spezza with a roof shot over a sprawled out Bishop at 8:12 and then Turris was left alone at the top of the crease for an easy rebound chance at 8:44 that forced Tampa Bay to call a timeout to try to regroup.
“For whatever reason, we did not start the game the way we wanted to and got behind the eight ball,’’ Stamkos said. “We have to start the game way more intense.’’
That intensity started to show after the timeout and Hedman pulled Tampa Bay to within a goal with a point shot on the power play for his 12th goal of the season and first since Jan. 30.
Looking inspired after the rough showing in the first half, the power play struck again early in the third when off the faceoff, Ondrej Palat’s attempt just above the crease hit the crossbar and bounced into the air. That allowed Stamkos to show off his baseball skills as he patiently waited for the puck to drop low enough as he choked up on his stick and batted the puck out of midair and into the net at 5:44. Though the goal was initially waived off on the ice, the stick was below the crossbar and after review it was ruled to be a legal goal to tie the game 3-3. The power play had two more chances to grab the victory, including a late call on Karlsson with 3.7 seconds left that carried into overtime but did not get the winner.
“We didn’t play well, there is no tip-toeing around that,’’ Stamkos said. “We get a power play in overtime and we have to find a way to convert it to get points, but that’s nine in a row with a point and they are not easy to come by this time of year so we’ll get as many as we can get.’’