OTTAWA, Ontario (AP)Brady Tkachuk notched his first career hat trick for Ottawa but made sure to share the spotlight with Anton Forsberg.
The Senators captain knew his goaltender deserved just as much credit in the Senators’ 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Forsberg made 24 saves for his first career shutout. The 29-year-old netminder is riding a personal four-game win streak and appears to have taken over the starter’s role in Ottawa.
”I didn’t know it was (his) first career shutout, so that’s probably more exciting,” Tkachuk said. ”He’s been great for us during this streak and the stretch of wins that we’ve had. He’s been holding the fort down and he played awesome again tonight.”
Speaking to reporters with his young son Ben by his side, Forsberg said the entire team deserved a lot of credit for playing a solid game.
”It was really nice to get a shutout just for the confidence and all that,” said Forsberg, who played his 66th career NHL game. ”I thought we played a really solid game for 60 minutes and we just have to keep building from here.”
The loss ended Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak. The Lightning (17-6-4), who closed a five-game road swing, were looking to finish a trip of five or more games with a perfect record for the first time in franchise history.
”When you’re getting these road trips, whether it’s three, four or five games, you’ve got to take more points than games played, and we did that,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ”If we lose the first game and win the next four, it’s probably a way better feeling than it is right now. It sucks to do interviews like this right after the game. But for the big picture, those eight out of 10 (points), that’s a good trip.”
Brian Elliott stopped 20 shots for the Lightning, who were shut out for the first time this season.
Ottawa’s special teams played a huge part in the victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Senators scored two power-play goals and were perfect on the penalty kill as the Lightning went 0 of 5 with the man advantage.
”I think we weren’t as consistent getting into the zone,” Tampa’s Ryan McDonagh said. ”We were a little sloppy on our break-ins. You can give (the Senators) credit, they were gapped up well and making good reads and in good positions. If you’re not able to get into the zone clean and execute well there, it’s going to make it tough for you to gain the zone and get your looks going.”
While the Lightning were missing a number of key players, the win will go a long way for Ottawa, which has struggled to put a solid 60-minute effort together.
Senators coach D.J. Smith praised Tkachuk’s efforts and the attention to detail, especially in the final minutes of the game.
”He’s learning how to win in the NHL and it’s not an easy thing,” Smith said. ”It’s not something that happens overnight. You’ve got to play games, you’ve got to lose games to learn, but that line especially, and then the rest of the guys, I thought they had really good legs, too, and they took care of the puck.
”There was no one cheating to try and win. It was a good, good team effort.”
Tkachuk capped his afternoon with an empty-net goal with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.
”We didn’t let off the gas all game, so I think we’re definitely proud of the effort,” Tkachuk said. ”I think we just played the right way.”
The Senators opened the scoring midway through the first period, with Norris notching his 12th goal of the season on a one-timer off a great pass from Drake Batherson.
A pair of power-play goals in the second period by Tkachuk stretched the lead to 3-0. Elliott had come up with a couple of big saves, but was unable to stop Tkachuk. The goal was Tkachuk’s first power-play point of the season.
Two minutes later, Tkachuk scored again, deflecting in a Thomas Chabot point shot.
Tkachuk capped his afternoon with an empty-net goal with just over three minutes remaining in the third period.
The two teams meet again Thursday in Tampa with the season series tied 1-1.
Tampa Bay hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night
Ottawa is at Florida on Tuesday night.
Notes: Defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker, recalled from AHL Belleville, was a healthy scratch for the Senators. … Ottawa blueliner Michael Del Zotto cleared waivers earlier in the day. … Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury.
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