Playoffs!: Senators 3, Lightning 0

A better result for the Senators kept their nigh-impossible playoff hopes alive for the time being, as Ottawa soundly trounced the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 in the most recent bout between the 1992-93 expansion class.

A couple milestones on the night, most notably Brian Elliott's (probably overdue) first NHL shutout. Although he only had to make 20 saves on the night, it's always impressive to shut out a team with Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, and Steven Stamkos. He had to make some pretty good saves, too, particularly in the first period when Tampa outshot Ottawa 12-8 and in the third period when the Bolts seemed like they were thinking of maybe trying to storm back into the game.

The other milestone was Dany Heatley's 500th NHL game, and he celebrated by scoring what held up as the game-winning goal on the powerplay midway through the first frame. The Senators' other two goals were from Ryan Shannon, an unassisted marker in the first period, and Jason Spezza, a 5-on-3 solo-effort goal where he circled the Bolts' zone and beat Karri Ramo low on the far stick side.

I can't really speak to the game because I only watched the final 13 minutes or so of the third period (Sundays should be reserved for afternoon games), but that snippet of the game looked pretty good, and the statistics paint a picture of a pretty dominant game for the Senators. Then again, they were playing against the Lightning.

Ottawa outshot Tampa 29-20 (Heatley alone had six shots), outhit them 21-17 (Mike Fisher had a game-high five hits), out-shot-blocked them 17-13 (featuring four shot-blocks from Chris Campoli), and won 67% of faceoffs (with Spezza winning 12 of 15 draws for an 80% success rate). Ottawa also held Tampa to one shot on four powerplays, including 34 seconds of 5-on-3 time for the Bolts. Meanwhile Ottawa went 2-for-5 on the powerplay.

The Sens' next game is in Florida on Tuesday night. It's a must-win to keep the playoffs a technical possibility, but it's a must-lose if the Sens want to help the Panthers bump the Canadiens out of the playoffs. Sigh... playing spoiler is way less fun than playing playoff-bound team.

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