OTTAWA — There’s no denying Ben Bishop is at his best against the Ottawa Senators.
Bishop made 33 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 Thursday night, making him 9-0-3 against his former teammates.
“Like I said in the past, you know some of the guys, obviously you grow up with them playing with them for a couple of years,” said Bishop. “You know some of their tendencies, but they’re getting new guys it seems like every time so I’m kind of falling behind on that. I don’t know the reason why (I have success), but I’ll take them when they’re coming.”
The Lightning, who wrapped up a four-game road trip, have now won eight straight, tying a franchise record.
Ondrej Palat’s second period goal held up as the winner. Cedric Paquette, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos — into an empty net — also scored for Tampa (38-22-4).
Marc Methot scored the lone goal for the Senators (30-28-7) as Andrew Hammond, making his first start since Feb. 11, faced 28 shots.
“I felt good about my game, but as I said they took advantage of a couple unfortunate bounces,” said Hammond. “Unfortunately for us we just couldn’t score.”
The loss puts Ottawa’s playoff hopes that much further out of reach as it now sits seven points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have two games in hand, for the final wild card.
Despite the loss Senators coach Dave Cameron was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“I liked our whole game really, except the result,” Cameron said. “I thought we did a lot of good things against a real good team. I have no complaints. I didn’t have what I would consider a passenger (Thursday) and there’s not many games, I don’t think, you could say that about your team.”
Leading 2-1 in the third the Lightning put the game out of reach as Kucherov took advantage of a Jean-Gabriel Pageau giveaway and beat Hammond easily at 18:14. Stamkos then added an empty-net goal.
“We knew they were going to be pressing and they did and (Bishop) was there when we needed him,” said Stamkos. “That’s why he’s an elite goalie.”
The Senators finally beat Bishop at 5:24 of the third. Zack Smith dropped the puck back to Methot who put it under the crossbar for his third of the season.
In front of 17,943 at Canadian Tire Centre the Senators did all they could to get the tying goal, but just couldn’t get anything past Bishop.
“We just didn’t generate enough good prime chances in the offensive zone,” said Methot. “Against a dynamic, offensive team like that if you’re not going to score a couple goals, you’re not going to win the game.”
Tampa opened the scoring at 4:14 of the second as Paquette eluded Erik Karlsson and knocked home his own rebound. The Senators have now allowed the first goal in 30 of the last 40 games.
The Lightning caught a break late in the period off a turnover at the blueline by the newly acquired Scott Gomez. Palat had an easy goal as Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman was tangled up with Hammond giving the goaltender no chance to make a save.
Despite a number of good chances, Ottawa was unable to beat Bishop.
Ottawa caught a break early in the first period when Tampa had a goal called back due to goaltender interference. Anton Stralman scored from just inside the blueline, but Ottawa challenged the goal and it was ruled that Erik Condra interfered with Hammond prior to the puck crossing the goal line.
The injury woes got worse for the Senators as they are without defenceman Mark Borowiecki. Borowiecki suffered a right knee injury on his first shift and is considered week-to-week at this point .
Notes: C Scott Gomez, who was signed yesterday by Ottawa, made his Senators debut. Ottawa was without G Craig Anderson (lower body, day-to-day). LW Matt Puempel and D Patrick Wiercioch were a healthy scratch. Tampa D missed the game with an undisclosed injury and C Jonathan Marchessault was a healthy scratch.