Stone’s 3 points leads Senators over Lightning

Mark Stone scored twice and added an assist as the Senators beat the Lightning 5-1.

OTTAWA — For the first time in a long time the Ottawa Senators are feeling good about themselves.

The Senators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 Monday night with Mark Stone leading the way with two goals and an assist.

Stone now has five goals and three assists in his past four games after having gone eight straight without a point.

“Once you get that little confidence, that little swagger back you feel comfortable every night,” said Stone. “I’m coming into games expecting to score.”

The Senators (25-23-6) won back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 18 and handed the Lightning (29-19-4) just their second loss in its last 12 games.

Tampa coach Jon Cooper didn’t make any excuses for his team’s lacklustre performance.

“We’ve been on a pretty good run here of the last month and a half, two months and it came to a crashing halt,” he said.

The Senators have been dealing with a fragile confidence of late and coach Dave Cameron wants the team builds off these two wins.

“We’ve been in this position before where we’ve played pretty good in back-to-back games, we’ve done it before, but now you’re at the point in your schedule and in the season where there’s no margin for error here,” said Cameron. “We have to get on a roll so this is a great way to start it and it starts with confidence.”

Zack Smith, Shane Prince and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored for Ottawa as Craig Anderson made 31 saves. Pageau tacked on two assists to match Stone’s three-point outing.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a rough outing for Tampa as he made 24 saves. J.T. Brown scored the lone goal for the Lightning.

For the second straight game the Senators scored first and didn’t let up, giving the 17,078 on hand at Canadian Tire Centre something to cheer about.

“This is what we need,” said Stone. “We’ve only been giving up very limited chances in our net and when Anderson only sees that many shots he’s not going to let in those four, five goals… When you’ve got a world class goalie and you’re only giving up a few chances against you’re giving yourself a chance to win every night.”

Smith, with his second in as many games, opened the scoring at the five-minute mark as Stone dropped a pass back and Smith beat Vasilevskiy top corner.

Prince made it 2-0 late in the period as he scored his first since Nov. 25, but the Lightning cut the lead in half 34 seconds later when Brown took advantage of a rebound and beat Anderson from in close.

Ottawa padded the lead early in the second on Stone’s power-play goal, and midway through the period Stone made it 4-1 after beating Vasilevskiy shortside.

Tampa’s best chance to respond came late in the second when Nikita Kucherov broke in, but Anderson easily made the save.

Cooper pulled Vasilevskiy at 11:24 of the third in favour of the extra attacker, but the move backfired as Pageau scored on the empty net.

With the Lightning back in action Tuesday night against Montreal, Cooper says things will need to be rectified immediately.

“This has to be a page turner because now we’ve got Montreal who’s won a couple and feeling good about themselves and we’re not,” said Cooper.

“You’re not always encouraged about playing back-to-back, but I’m glad we get to jump right back at it (Tuesday) night.”

The Senators are back in action Wednesday night as they take on the Detroit Red Wings.

NOTES: Tampa D Jason Garrison suffered a lower body injury and will be re-evaluated Tuesday. Ottawa D Jared Cowen and LW Nick Paul, as well as Tampa C Jonathan Marchessault and D Matthew Carle were healthy scratches.

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