TAMPA -- Senators 4, Lightning 1
The Lightning did just about everything to try and weather the Senators' storm last night.
But even the Stanley Cup champions were no match for one of this year's Stanley Cup favourites.
The Senators, off to their best start in club history, improved their record to a perfect 6-0-0 with a 4-1 victory over the Lightning last night in front of 20,424 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
After a six-day break, the Senators looked a little slow out of the gate, but goals from Chris Neil, Daniel Alfredsson, Peter Schaefer and Dany Heatley earned Ottawa its fifth straight regular-season victory over the Bolts.
"They are the Stanley Cup champions, you want to beat them," said Heatley, who was part of a bizarre incident which led to Alfredsson's sixth goal of the year.
As Alfredsson skated in alone on a loose puck, Lightning goalie John Grahame came out and tripped Alfredsson, but got beat in a foot race for the loose puck by Heatley.
Caught out of the net, Grahame threw his stick at Heatley in an attempt to knock the puck away. Though the Ottawa winger missed the net, Alfredsson was there to tuck it in to give the Senators a 2-1 lead.
"That was a crazy play," said Heatley.
Added Alfredsson: "It probably would have been an automatic goal for Heatley. I don't know what Grahame was trying to do. He just threw the stick at (Heatley). I've never seem that before."
After giving up a goal to Dmitry Afanasenkov at 9:15 of the first, Dominik Hasek held Tampa scoreless the rest of the way in his 600th career start. Jason Spezza also contributed with a pair of assists.
"The first period wasn't our best and they were skating pretty well, but then we kind of shut the door on them and didn't give them much at all," said coach Bryan Murray. "They couldn't really get anything going."
In the third period, the Senators were upset with Evgeny Artyukhin's hit from behind on Patrick Eaves. Vincent Lecavalier's elbow to the face of Schaefer didn't sit too well with Ottawa, either.
"Eaves gets a cut (above) his eye and there's no call on the play," said Murray. "The official told one of our players it was a clean hit. That seems kind of strange."
In 18 regular-season games dating back to April 9, 2000, Ottawa has a 15-2-1 record against the Lightning -- including three straight road victories.
"That's a good win against a good team," said Schaefer. "We had a bit of a break and we wanted to play well."
SOME THINGS WORTH NOTING:
HAIR SAY: Tampa coach John Tortorella has demanded that veterans Dave Andreychuk, John Grahame and Chris Dingman get haircuts. "(In the case of Andreychuk) he must be going through a midlife crisis," said Tortorella. "He couldn't find 20 minutes to get it cut while we were in Atlantic City, so I'm sure he's got somewhere here he can get it done." Andreychuk said Tortorella has told him every day for the last week to get it cut. "I'm going to get it done," he said.
VARADA BACK: The Senators were glad to have LW Vaclav Varada back in the lineup. He played on the fourth line with Brian McGrattan and Chris Kelly, but was going to be busy on special teams. "He's excited to be back. I saw him in the power-play and penalty-killing meetings. He's going to play a role for us," said coach Bryan Murray.
TIES TO OTTAWA: Tampa LW Vaclav Prospal played in his 476th career game with the Lightning to surpass Rob Zamuner for the most games in a Bolts' uniform. Both players suited up for the Senators during their NHL careers.