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Senators unleash offence to beat Lightning 7-4

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators snapped a four-game losing streak with an impressive 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night.

While the Senators have been officially eliminated from playoff contention there’s still lots to play for, as was evident from Saturday’s performance.

Seven different goal scorers got on the scoresheet, including an impressive first career goal for Igor Sokolov, who’s marker held up as the winner.

“Honestly, I can’t believe it still,” said Sokolov. “It doesn’t feel real for me.”

The Senators were leading 4-3 to start the third when Sokolov intercepted an Erik Cernak pass and proceeded to bury the turnover beating Brian Elliott — who stopped 33 shots — through the legs.

“To be honest I changed my mind five or six times and at the last second I completely blacked out,” said Sokolov when asked if he knew what move he was going to make.

“If you ever see me go on a breakaway I never go five-hole and for some reason I went five-hole today and it worked out so I’m happy about it.”

Teammates were just as happy to see Claude Giroux bury an empty-net goal as he chases down 1,000 career points with two games remaining this season. Giroux needs two points to reach the milestone.

Drake Batherson, Julien Gauthier, Patrick Brown, Alex DeBrincat and Mark Kastelic also scored for Ottawa (38-35-7). Cam Talbot made 19 saves.

Alex Killorn, Brandon Hagel, Victor Hedman and Brayden Point scored for Tampa (45-29-6), who have now lost three straight. This was Tampa’s final road game of the regular season and second loss to Ottawa in two weeks.

“Just turnovers,” said Point. “We’re giving up so many chances again. It’s been the theme lately and it’s tough to win when you’re giving up that many chances.”

The Senators gave the Lightning all they could handle, but Senators coach D.J. Smith did point out that both of Ottawa’s victories against Tampa have come with Elliott in goal.

“To be honest, we only got Vasilevskiy once and he’s the best goalie in the world,” admitted Smith. “When you play him we outchanced him the first time we were in Tampa and he’s just that good. Obviously, they’re locked into their (playoff) positioning so I think they’re more concerned right now about just not getting hurt.”

Leading 4-3 to start the third Sokolov scored to take a two-goal lead, but the Lightning continued to fight back and made it a one-goal game when Point was left all alone in front and tipped Hedman’s shot past Talbot.

Kastelic made it 6-4 and Giroux added an empty-netter to round out the scoring.

“We had a chance to make amends,” said Tampa coach Jon Cooper. “It’s 3-3 going into the third, then we lose the third 4-0. It’s not where we need to be with the playoffs starting in a week.”

The Lightning will get a preview of their first-round matchup Tuesday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs and know they’ll need to be much better to extend their season.

“I think it means something and I’m sure it does for them, too,” said Point, of the upcoming game. “I would expect kind of a tone to be set in that game from both sides and hopefully our effort’s better.”

Ottawa hasn’t had much goal production from its bottom six this season, but on this night all made solid contributions and were largely responsible for the final outcome.

“Of course, it’s fun to contribute,” said Gauthier, who scored his ninth of the season. “I think my line had an overall great game.”

The Senators added to their lead early in the second when Brown fired a shot that hit the crossbar and dropped straight down, but he was there to jam it home to make it 3-1.

A couple of minor penalties to Erik Brannstrom and Giroux gave the Lightning a two-man advantage for 72 seconds and they made the most of it.

Hagel scored on a Steven Stamkos rebound to cut the lead to one and just 28 seconds later Hedman made it 3-3, but the Senators regained the lead with a power-play goal of their own when DeBrincat scored short side with 16 seconds remaining in the period.

The Senators got off to a solid start with Batherson getting a piece of a Brannstrom shot just 30 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead.

Tampa made it 1-1 with a power-play goal when Killorn tipped a Stamkos shot past Talbot, but the Senators regained the lead midway through the period when Gauthier ripped a wrist shot past Elliott glove side.


Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said no player on the Senators’ injured list is expected to return this season. Julien Gauthier will return after missing six games. Tampa’s Mikhail Sergachev did not make the trip to Ottawa as his wife is expecting.


The Senators host Carolina Monday for their final home game of the season, while Tampa will host Toronto on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 08, 2023.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press