SPORTS

Patrick Wiercioch scores in overtime as Senators edge Lightning 2-1

04/02/2015 10:30 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - As far as the Ottawa Senators are concerned, a win is a win when you're pushing for a spot in the post-season.

Patrick Wiercioch scored the game winner 4:43 into overtime as Ottawa beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Thursday to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

"Winning games is fun and it doesn't matter how you win them," said Wiercioch. "As a team we'd rather be coasting in with 5-1 wins, but for whatever reason it's taken 65 minutes and plus the last few nights."

Fighting for their playoff lives, the Senators thought they had gained ground in the standings, but such was not the case.

Ottawa still trails the Boston Bruins— who beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 Thursday— by three points for the second wild-card spot in the East. The Senators, however, still has a game in hand.

The only consolation is Ottawa now sits three points behind the Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Mark Stone also scored for the Senators (39-26-12) as Andrew Hammond made 28 saves to improve to 16-1-1 as an NHL starter.

Jonathan Drouin scored the lone goal for Tampa Bay, which has now lost four of its last five outings. Ben Bishop turned away 32-of-34 shots in defeat.

"All in all we competed," said Tampa coach Jon Cooper. "It comes down to our guys were tired there at the end and 16 seconds away from a shootout so that kind of sucks, but I thought we battled hard. I can't ask for more from our guys."

The Senators continued to struggle on the power play and were 0 for 5 with the man advantage. Ottawa has now gone 1 for 15 in its last three games.

Senators coach Dave Cameron could only shake his head when asked of his team's performance with the man advantage.

"Too slow. We're way too slow. We talk about it all the time. We don't practice it much because we don't practice much, but we're way too slow and I'm starting to think we're way too tight. You should at least be able to get the puck to the net and it hasn't been good enough, but fortunately it hasn't hurt us in terms of being able to get some wins."

Tied 1-1, the third period did little to resolve things as neither team generated much offense.

Both teams had a couple of good opportunities in the second, but couldn't capitalize. The Lightning outshot the Senators 10-8 in the middle frame and Hammond had to make a great glove save on Steven Stamkos to keep it tied.

With 14 seconds remaining in the second Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a knee-on-knee collision with Stamkos. Pageau was in visible pain as he required assistance to the dressing room, but was able to return for the start of the third.

The Senators opened the scoring at 5:03 of the first period as Stone, with his 20th of the season, jumped on a Kyle Turris rebound and banged it past Bishop.

The 22-year-old is in his first full season with the Senators and has made an immediate impact.

"He's been good for a long time," said Cameron. "He's been good right from the get-go and has started to get rewarded for it in the last while. He's just real good hockey IQ, sees the ice, unbelievable stick, wants the puck, wants to be a difference maker. Whatever line he's been on has been real good."

Tampa tied the game late in the period with a power-play goal by Drouin. Unable to win the battle to clear the puck along the boards, Anton Stralman grabbed the puck and was able to find Drouin all alone.

Notes-The Senators were without LW Matt Puempel (high ankle sprain) and LW Milan Michalek (undisclosed). D Jared Cowen and LW Colin Greening were healthy scratches. The Lightning were without defencemen Victor Hedman, Braydon Coburn, Jason Garrison and Adrej Sustr as well as C Tyler Johnson.

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