It was a strange night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
There were goals. There were penalties. There were scrums. There was even a player who lost his skate blade. At the end of the night, there was a 3-2 Lightning victory over the Ottawa Senators in front of an announced crowd of 17,323.
“The Boys are learning how to win and what it takes,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. To see the guys laying out to block shots, you could just see the commitment level that was there the whole time.”
The game saw Ryan Malone and Pierre Cedric Labrie return to the ice, and in what was the biggest story line heading in to the game, goaltender Ben Bishop and forward Cory Conacher return to play against their former teams.
Ottawa got off to a quick start in the first period, collecting a goal from Daniel Alfredsson right on the doorstep. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop made the original save and the puck shot straight into the air. Alfredsson waited until the puck dropped below the crossbar and knocked it in to the open net for his ninth goal of the season. The goal would be reviewed, but it was ruled that the puck was not hit into the net with a high stick.
That was the only scoring in the first period, but the Senators took a 13-8 shot lead with them into the first intermission.
The second period was one filled with penalties and no flow, as neither team (in some cases incorrectly) was able to stay out of the penalty box.
The Lightning got on the board when Pierre Cedric Labrie scored his first career NHL goal on a shot from the slot that found its way to the back of the net. The assists on the goal went to Nate Thompson and B.J. Crombeen. The penalty parade started when Kyle Turris went off for hooking. On the ensuing faceoff, Peter Regin got a two minute penalty for a faceoff violation, the new rule for playing the puck with your glove back to a teammate. In this case, replays showed that was not what happened and the play was call incorrectly.
The Lightning still took advantage, as Vincent Lecavalier found the back of the net with the two man advantage. Teddy Purcell and Marty St. Louis assisted on the goal. With the assist, it was Marty St. Louis 900th career NHL point.
In the third, the Senators would get the equalizing goal in a hurry, as Guillame Lattendresse scored on a scramble in front on a play that just did not bounce the Lightning’s way. Latendresse threw the puck towards the front of the net, and it bounced straight in the air. Bishop tried to catch the puck, but missed it and it fell in the crease, as Latendresse knocked it into the goal before Bishop could cover it.
It was the power play that got the Lightning the lead back late in this game, when Vincent Lecavalier found Steven Stamkos wide open in the left circle. Stamkos beat Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson to put the game away for good.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was strong in net tonight for the Lightning, stopping 31 of 33 shots he faced in the victory.
“It was a great feeling,” Bishop said. “Big two points for our team. First game in this building as a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning so I wanted to get a big win for our fans, and it was nice that it was against my old team.”