Senators wake to find themselves in a playoff spot for first time this season

The Ottawa Senators got as close to playoff spot as they’ve been all season Thursday night with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, their first over the Bolts in three games this games.

Senators wake to find themselves in a playoff spot for first time this season
Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson, centre, celebrates with teammates Milan Michalek, left, and Jason Spezza after scoring against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ont., January 30, 2014. (Patrick Doyle / Ottawa Citizen)

The Ottawa Senators woke on Friday morning to find that they’re in a playoff spot for the first time this season.
Thanks to their 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Philadelphia’s 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Senators squeeze into the final wild-card spot.

Both the Senators and the Flyers have 58 points but the Senators have played fewer games, 54 to Philadelphia’s 55. The Flyers still have more wins, excluding shootouts, than the Senators, so the Senators need to keep winning.

Marc Methot, Erik Karlsson, Zack Smith, Kyle Turris, and Bobby Ryan scored for the Senators, who have now won two games in a row.

Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, with a shorthanded goal, and Victor Hedman scored for Tampa.
Craig Anderson faced 38 shots for the Senators.

The Lightning got a huge scare when starting goalie Ben Bishop was knocked out just 1:49 into the game after he got hit in the back of his head, first by Nikita Kucherov’s left knee, then by his left skate.

In a race with Mika Zibanejad for a loose puck, Bishop dove in an attempt to get to it first.

He wasn’t successful. Zibanejad won, got the puck and fired it through the crease.

Meanwhile, Kucherov, in pursuit, couldn’t get out of the way and fell over Bishop. His knee hit Bishop first, followed by his skate.

The play ended with Methot getting the puck off the left boards and firing it into the net for Ottawa’s first goal.

Anders Lindback came in and finished the game. There was no immediate word on the severity of Bishop’s injury but he was walking around later in the locker-room area.

Bishop, 26-7-4, was making his first appearance in Ottawa since he was traded to Tampa Bay on April 3, 2013, for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick.

After the misplay that resulted in Bishop leaving the game and Ottawa’s first goal, the Senators continued to apply pressure but couldn’t solve Lindback until there were only 24.7 seconds left in the period.

From the left circle, Spezza spotted Karlsson going back door and threw a perfect pass across the ice to him. From a sharp angle, Karlsson got his 13th of the season.

The Lightning made it a game 3:10 into the second period when, from the high slot, Killorn put a shot through Milan Michalek and then Anderson.

But 23-year-old Tampa defenceman Radko Gudas killed all that momentum with a terrible giveaway in his own zone that resulted in Smith’s goal.

After helping himself to the loose puck, Smith turned in the slot and fired. His shot hit the crossbar, then bounced off Lindback’s back and in.

Then, with 1:60 left in the period, Turris got his 18th when linemate Bobby Ryan, with Victor Hedman all over him, pushed a pass over to him in the slot. He beat Lindback to the right side for a 4-1 lead.

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