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Lightning look to regain focus in Canadian road trip vs. Senators

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The Tampa Bay Lightning uncharacteristically left one point in Toronto on Thursday and will try to get two points in their second match in Canada.

Two days after playing 59 minutes of shutout hockey and succumbing 2-1 to the Maple Leafs in overtime, the Lightning will attempt to refocus against the slumping Ottawa Senators in Saturday’s matinee matchup.

Playing again quickly and not brooding over Thursday’s shocking turn of events is probably best for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Led by netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay held the uber-talented Maple Leafs scoreless with less than a minute to play in regulation, but Victor Hedman committed a pair of mistakes that changed the game.

The defenseman’s failed clearing attempt led to John Tavares’ game-tying marker with 42 seconds left.

Then he slashed Tavares in overtime, leading to a four-on-three power play that William Nylander converted on a one-timer at 2:43 of the extra session.

“Unfortunately, that’s not how the Tampa Bay Lightning are supposed to play,” said Pat Maroon, whose first goal this season was his club’s lone tally. “Just careless plays that we usually don’t make that cost us tonight.”

Those plays wasted a strong performance by Vasilevskiy, who allowed two goals on 34 shots and is 3-0-1 in his last four starts — a 1.48 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage.

“The frustrating part is I don’t feel like the Leafs beat us — I feel like we just beat ourselves,” coach Jon Cooper said after his side lost for the first time in four games (3-0-1). “That was painfully evident after the first period. … I feel like we gave away a point tonight.”

Ottawa would love to ice that net-minding after the week it is having.

Following a promising 2-1-0 start to 2021 anchored by the play of goalie Filip Gustavsson, the Senators have a 1-5-1 mark — outscored 15-6 over three straight defeats and surrendering five goals in each.

Most recently, the club was blown out Thursday by Vegas 5-1 on a day when the biggest headline was the Golden Knights’ trade to acquire Jack Eichel from the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres.

The visitors posted four even-strength tallies against Gustavsson, who has watched nine of the past 81 shots against him find the back of the goal — in Minnesota against the Wild in Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime loss and four back at home against Vegas.

The 7-2-2 record by Gustavsson, 23, through his first 12 games was the fourth-best start ever by an Ottawa goalie.

While the recent run has been rough, the organization offered positive news Friday morning when it announced Brady Tkachuk had been named the 10th captain in franchise history.

The 22-year-old Tkachuk — son of former NHL forward Keith Tkachuk and younger brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk — has produced two 20-goal seasons during his three-plus years while playing left wing.

“Brady personifies leadership,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a statement. “While on the ice, he craves winning and commands respect. Off of it, he routinely sets a good example for his teammates and carries himself with a combination of confidence and dignity.

“He’s deserving of this next step in his career.”

Tkachuk, who netted Ottawa’s only goal Thursday, was the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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