Back from bad back, Sens' Spezza scores winner

BY foxsports • November 6, 2009

Jason Spezza is glad he won't have to answer any more questions about his early goal drought.

Spezza got his first goal of the season on a power play 4:17 into overtime to give the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Sidelined the previous two games because of back pain, Spezza drove a slap shot past Antero Niittymaki for his third point of the game after Tampa Bay's Mattias Ohlund was sent off for holding 3 minutes into overtime.

"I felt pretty good about my game going into tonight and I just wasn't getting many bounces," said Spezza, a 30-goal scorer each of the last three seasons. "It's nice to get one, though, to get the monkey off a little bit."

Spezza also assisted on goals by Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher.

"He's a big part of our team," said Pascal Leclaire, who made 18 saves. "He's a presence. When he has the puck he can do so many things. He makes the defense back up a little bit and keeps them thinking so obviously you want him on your team and he played great tonight."

Ottawa (7-4-2) won for the second time in three meetings between the two teams this season, including a 5-2 loss in Tampa Bay one week earlier.

Alex Tanguay and Steven Stamkos scored power-play goals for Tampa Bay (5-4-5). The Lightning are 1-1-1 on a four-game trip that included a 2-1 overtime win in Toronto on Tuesday night. Stamkos has 12 goals this season.

Niittymaki stopped 26 shots in his second start in a row.

"Obviously we wanted to win but I think it was a good game," Lecavalier said. "It was a little bit like the game in Toronto, high intensity, and both teams had their chances and the goalies played well. I think it was a good game overall."

Rookie Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the second and did not return after he was leveled by Ottawa's Chris Neil on a hit along the boards behind Tampa Bay's net.

"I saw it kind of quickly on the board," Lecavalier said. "A couple of guys said it was dirty but I don't want to comment on it. I didn't see it clearly."

Steve Downie was assessed an instigating minor, a major and a misconduct at 14:12 when he came to his teammate's defense and fought Neil, who wasn't surprised by Downie's reaction.

"You don't like to see your teammates get hit like that but it's a clean hit, sometimes you can't do much about it," Neil said.

Stamkos drew the Lightning even at 2 when he drove a slap shot past Pascal Leclaire 13:40 into the second for Tampa Bay's second power-play goal of the game.

Referee Kerry Fraser waved off a pair of Ottawa goals with under 5 minutes remaining in the third, including Chris Kelly's high-stick tip with 26.8 seconds left.

A brief video review confirmed Fraser's call.

The official drew the ire of the Scotiabank Place crowd moments earlier when he waved off another apparent go-ahead goal by the Senators with 4:09 remaining.

Fraser ruled that the Lightning gained possession while a delayed penalty was signaled against Tampa Bay's Andrej Meszaros before Filip Kuba put a backhand past Niittymaki.

Tanguay gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead 3:03 in with his second of the season.

Alfredsson drew Ottawa even just under 2 minutes later with his sixth goal.

Fisher scored on a power play 12 minutes into the second to give the Senators a brief 2-1 lead.

NOTES: With thousands of Canadian military personnel on hand for Armed Forces Appreciation Night, a moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of the victims of the shooting spree at Fort Hood. ... Tanguay has two goals and four assists in his last seven games. He had one point in his first seven games, an assist in the Lightning's 6-3 season-opening loss in Atlanta on Oct. 3. ... Tampa Bay beat Ottawa, 5-2, at home one week earlier. Senators LW Milan Michalek had a hat trick in a 7-1 win over the Lightning on Oct. 15.