Lightning strikes

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

KANATA, Ont. -- The Ottawa Senators are intent on re-writing their checkered playoff history, but missed an opportunity to pen a new chapter last night.

After taking the lead early in the third period on a goal from former Brandon Wheat Kings forward Peter Schaefer, the Senators watched the Tampa Bay Lightning score twice in a span of 55 seconds to drop a 4-3 decision and blow an opportunity to take a precious 2-0 series advantage in the Eastern Conference playoff matchup.

The Senators are now 0-for-6 in games following a series opening victory.

"It's tough to have that happen, but we knew it was going to be a grind," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "They're a good hockey team. There's no point putting our heads down now."

There were certainly no heads down in the Lightning locker-room. Not after an energetic game overall and dynamic performances from Martin St. Louis, who fired a pair of goals including the game-winner, and Brad Richards, with a goal and two assists.

BURIED A REBOUND

"It's going to be a fun plane ride. We came here to get a win, at least, and we got that," said St. Louis.

"We've gone through a lot as a team. Good ups and a lot of downs this season ... That's the kind of team we are. We're a bunch of battlers. When people don't believe in us, we push harder it seems."

The Senators scored first as Brian Smolinski buried a rebound that ended up right on his stick at 4:51 of the opening period.

A blatant giveaway by Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov proved to be costly as Vaclav Prospal found St. Louis for a one-timer in the slot at 14:36 to even the score.

Tampa Bay took advantage of a neutral zone turnover to take the lead when Paul Ranger sprung Richards for a breakaway that ended with a beautiful forehand deke at 7:39 of the second.

POWER-PLAY MARKER

With St. Louis serving a tripping minor, the Senators clawed back on a great hustle play by Spezza.

Spezza beat Lightning defencemen Pavel Kubina and Darryl Sydor to the puck to nullify an icing call and Dany Heatley found Martin Havlat all alone in front for a power-play marker at 17:12.

Schaefer gave the Sens the lead at 3:21 of the third, but Dan Boyle tied it on a great individual effort at 5:24, setting the stage for St. Louis.

Dimitry Afanesenkov took a low shot that was stopped by Ray Emery, who couldn't corral the rebound.

St. Louis beat Volchenkov to the loose puck and jammed in the rebound at 6:19.

"It seemed like after we got the lead, we backed up and gave them a lot of space and they capitalized with two quick goals," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"It's unfortunate, but we're going to have to regroup. We knew this was a good chance for us to go up 2-0 but we knew they weren't going to fold."

NOTES: Senators blue-liner Wade Redden sat out yesterday's game after his mother Pat passed away Saturday night ... Sens forward Chris Kelly left in the third period with an "upper-body" injury after taking a hard hit from Lightning defenceman Cory Sarich ... Kelly's injury could open up a roster spot for Winnipegger Tyler Arnason, a trade deadline acquisition who was a healthy scratch for the first two games ... Even without Redden, three former Wheat Kings suited up in the contest, Schaefer and Lightning forwards Ryan Craig and Chris Dingman.


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