Lightning look to clean up 'sloppy' play vs. Senators
After losing two of three games, the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to emerge from a rare dip in form when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Capitals marked an uncharacteristic letdown for league-leading Tampa Bay. Steven Stamkos felt his team "came out really sloppy" in the game, something the Lightning can ill afford as they prepare for tougher competition in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"This game doesn't mean anything to us (in the standings) at this point in the season, but we've played like that for a long time and still found ways to win," Stamkos said. "We just didn't play well enough to win. Whether we're playing Washington, Boston, Toronto, whatever, you play the way we did the first half of the game and we're not going to win."
The loss ended the Lightning's chances of tying the 1976-77 Canadiens' record for most points in a single NHL season. With four games left on the schedule, Tampa Bay (59-15-4, 122 points) can still surpass the 2005-06 Red Wings' mark of 124 points, the highest total set by a team since the introduction of the overtime loss.
The Lightning also still have a shot at breaking the 1995-96 Red Wings' record of 62 wins in a season.
Tampa Bay may have to continue that quest without Victor Hedman or Erik Cernak, as the two defensemen each made early exits from Saturday's game due to upper-body injuries. Cernak's injury isn't considered to be serious, though Hedman may be held out on a precautionary basis to keep the reigning Norris Trophy winner ready for the playoffs.
It also wouldn't be surprising to see Andrei Vasilevskiy get some rest over Tampa Bay's final four games. Vasilevskiy allowed six goals on 35 shots against Washington, starting for the 11th time in Tampa Bay's last 13 games.
Since the Lightning follow up Monday's game with a date in Montreal on Tuesday, backup goalie Louis Domingue could get the call against Ottawa. Domingue has a 2.88 goals against average and .908 save percentage over 26 games this season.
The Lightning and Senators (28-44-6, 62 points) are at opposite ends of the NHL standings, though Ottawa is trying to end a lost season on a high note. The Senators have won three of their last four games, including a 4-2 result over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
"I thought our young players played their tails off. They played so hard tonight," coach Marc Crawford said after the game. "They got themselves in a position to compete. They got themselves in a position to do enough good things that we found a way to be resilient, and we found a way to find a victory."
Ottawa has been rotating Anders Nilsson and Craig Anderson in net, though Anderson has lately held the hot hand. He followed up a 35-save shutout against the Buffalo Sabres on March 26 by stopping 42 of 44 shots against Toronto.
Defenseman Mark Borowiecki missed Saturday's game due to an upper-body injury and may not be available against Tampa Bay.
Anthony Duclair recorded two goals and an assist against Toronto, giving him 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 17 games as a Senator. Before coming to Ottawa in a trade from Columbus on Feb. 23, Duclair had only 19 points in 53 games with the Blue Jackets.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 31, 2019