After dropping two straight games, the Senators were facing considerable pressure to complete a season sweep of a Lightning team desperately trying to climb their way into the eighth playoff spot.
The Senators came out of the gate strong, outshooting the Lightning 14-8 in the first frame. The Sens opened the scoring about halfway through the first when Sergei Gonchar was able to sneak in from the point completely undetected and put in an easy Colin Greening feed. Later in the period, Greening made it a 2-0 game off a sneaky pass from Milan Michalek. Less than a minute later, Kyle Turris rifled a shot that ricocheted off the defender's shinpad and fooled Dwayne Roloson, giving the Senators a huge 3-0 lead.
However, just like Sunday night's game against the Florida Panthers, the Senators stumbled into the second period and allowed the opposition to score a couple of quick goals (including one by former Senator Ryan Shannon), making it a 3-2 game. Unlike that loss to the Panthers, though, the Senators were able to recover, thanks to an Erik Karlsson powerplay goal that made it a 4-2 game.
Early in the third period, Steven Stamkos brought the Lightning to within one with a gorgeous top-shelf goal, but it wasn't enough for the Bolts. Milan Michalek finished off the Lightning with one of the most bizarre natural hat-tricks ever recorded, scoring a beautiful powerplay goal on a perfect snipe shot before firing home two empty-netters in the last two minutes of the game.
Sens Hero: Colin Greening
Greening assisted on the game's opening goal by making a nice feed to Sergei Gonchar, got his own goal later in the period, and then dropped the gloves with Keith Aulie, giving him the fabled Gordie Howe hat-trick. I'm conflicted as to whether to link to this or to this, so I'll just go with both.
Sens Hero: Milan Michalek
Michalek finished the night +4 with four points thanks to an assist and his natural Mario Lemieux hat-trick (an even strength goal, a power play goal, and a shorthanded goal). Yes, two of those goals were empty netters so it probably shouldn't count, but it does. Milan now sits at 32 goals -- his first 30 goal season in the NHL.
Sens Zero: Sergei Gonchar
Gonchar got the opening goal on a nice read to find open space, but he lost most of that goodwill when he stood more or less motionless and frozen on the Lightning's first two goals. I guess you could say they sent him to the cooler.
What about Bishop?
Ottawa's newest netminder looked a bit shaky in his first start, allowing three goals including two scored above his shoulders, despite Bryan Murray's press conference assuring me that Bishop's shoulders would be above the crossbar even when he's down. It's his first game, though, so I'm sure his nerves will settle and he'll perform better in the future. If not, he could always return back to college on this scholarship (although he appears overqualified).
Chris Phillips left the game in the first period with a broken nose. No word yet on when he'll return to the line-up.