While the Tampa Bay Lightning got the best of the Senators last week, a repeat performance could be hard to come by in Ottawa.
The Lightning try to pick up a rare road win over the Senators as these Atlantic Division foes meet again Thursday night.
Tampa Bay (31-17-5) has taken both matchups against Ottawa (23-20-10) this season, winning 3-1 on Dec. 5 and 4-3 in a shootout last Thursday. Victor Hedman matched a career high with three assists while Ben Bishop made 33 saves to stay unbeaten against his former club.
The Lightning have won three straight in the series, but those games were all in Tampa. They’ve lost their last four visits to Ottawa, allowing 16 goals, and compiled a 4-20-4 regular-season record there dating to January 1998.
Tampa Bay had won three in a row before opening a four-game road trip with Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Toronto. Defenseman Mark Barberio scored for the fourth time in as many games to help the Lightning erase a two-goal deficit, but Bishop allowed the go-ahead goal with 4:03 remaining after Radko Gudas’ turnover in the defensive zone.
Matthew Carle also scored for Tampa Bay, which outshot the Maple Leafs 42-26.
"I thought we deserved better," said captain Martin St. Louis, who had a 10-game point streak snapped. "But we’ve been on the other side of the coin, too, where you don’t deserve a win but somehow you can get one. Tonight was one of those game that probably evened things out a little bit."
The Senators return home after concluding a 2-1-1 trek with Tuesday’s 3-2 win in Columbus, where captain Jason Spezza scored the go-ahead goal with 4:58 to play.
Fourth-year center Stephane Da Costa notched his first two goals of the season, about a week after being recalled from the AHL.
"It’s real good to see him score," coach Paul MacLean said. "He was a good player for us tonight. Since he’s come up, he’s been good."
Craig Anderson made 34 saves to finish 2-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average on the road trip. The Senators had five goals with the man advantage in those four games, raising their NHL-leading road power-play percentage to 28.6, after going 2 for 4 on Tuesday.
"Special teams and goaltending were huge again," MacLean said. "They were the difference in the game. It was a huge game."
MacLean’s club, though, has no power-play goals in its last five at home and has a league-worst 11.8 percent success rate there.
The Senators are one of three Eastern Conference teams with 56 points, one behind Detroit and Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Their chances of making the postseason would surely increase if Spezza can stay hot. He recorded five points on the trip, including two assists Tuesday, after totaling five during a 14-game stretch.
"No doubt I’ve had much better years in the past," he said. "But there’s a lot of hockey left, and I have a lot to give."
Spezza has 54 points in 38 career meetings versus Tampa Bay, including playoffs.
Anderson, 8-1-3 in his last 12 starts, is hoping to avoid a third straight loss in this series after making 35 saves last week but allowing the only shootout goal to Nikita Kucherov. His 1.56 GAA versus the Lightning is his lowest against any opponent.
Bishop is among the NHL leaders with a 1.99 GAA but has a 3.18 mark over his last five starts. He’s won all three starts against the Senators since they traded him to the Lightning in April, though each victory came in Tampa.