Thunder and Lightning

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 2:03 PM ET

At a time of year when a lot of people are making long lists, the Senators are shortening theirs.

Cross off "move up another spot in the standings in the Eastern Conference" and "get to .500 on home ice."

The Senators won for the ninth time in their last 10 games with a 5-2 decision over the Tampa Bay Lightning last night at Scotiabank Place in front of a crowd of 18,618.

The Lightning was the only team to have beaten the Senators in their current run which has seen them jump over the Lightning and into at least a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East (depending on the outcome of other action last night).

The Senators are now 14-12-1 (two games over the break-even mark for the first time this year) and 5-5 on home ice.

The Senators roared out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, riding goals of varying degrees of beauty, but the Lightning rallied in the second with a pair.

The outcome was in doubt until Ottawa's Antoine Vermette scored his second of the night at 13:16 of the third to make it 5-2.

It looked like it was going to be a blowout as the Senators were up 3-0 before the game was barely eight minutes old.

The four scores in the first helped set a new Senators record for most consecutive goals scored without being scored on, 14. The old record was set in 2003.

Patrick Eaves scored short-handed for his fifth goal of the year, jumping on a turnover by Tampa defenceman Paul Ranger and then lifting a smart backhander by Holmqvist at 2:47.

Defenceman Joe Corvo scored his third of the season and first since Oct. 26 on a wrister from the top of the left wing circle at 6:49 (Corvo wound up taking a puck in the face in while on the bench in the third period and did not return).

Antoine Vermette made it 3-0 with a goal that raised the bar, putting his stick back between his legs and flicking a puck that was behind him behind Holmqvist at the side of the net at 8:06.

That's one you're likely going to see on the highlight reels for a while and you need the slow motion to appreciate what a deft move it was.

That was it for Holmqvist and he was replaced by Karri Ramo, called up because Marc Denis was unable to travel to Canada because of visa problems.

Denis' American work permit has expired and if the left the USA, he might not have been able to return.

WELCOME FROM SPEZZA

Jason Spezza welcomed Ramo with his 12th goal of the season to make it 4-0 with just a little more than three minutes left in the period as he was left alone in front to snap home a nice pass after some good boardwork by Chris Kelly.

So, you figured that would be it for Tampa, right?

They were down 4-0 with a goalie nobody had heard of, facing one of the NHL's hottest teams.

But, as has often been the case, the second period has been a problem for the Senators.

The Lightning took it to them, outshooting them 17-2 from the time of Spezza's goal.

Two of them found the net behind Senators goaltender Ray Emery with gritty Eric Perrin hanging tough in front of the Ottawa net to tip in a hard pass from Brad Richards at 8:35.

Less than two minutes later, Ottawa defenceman Andrej Meszaros got caught stepping up and falling down in the neutral zone, creating an odd-man rush on partner Chris Phillips.

Former Senator Vaclav Prospal fed Vincent Lecavalier for a shot from the slot and his 13th of the year at 10:32.


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