The Ottawa Senators will try to win four straight games to start the season when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Friday's encounter at Tampa Times Forum.
The Senators have won three in a row to begin the season thanks in large part to some spectacular defense and goaltending. Ottawa has surrendered only two goals through three games and has outscored the opposition by a combined 11-2 margin. As a result, Ottawa is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since winning the first five games of the 2007-08 campaign.
Head coach Paul MacLean's club earned its two most recent wins against the Florida Panthers, posting a 4-0 win at home on Monday and following it up with Thursday's 3-1 decision in Sunrise.
Erik Karlsson scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period, beating Jose Theodore with a tremendous individual effort. Karlsson intercepted a pass just beyond the blue line and waited for his teammates to clear the neutral zone. He then sprinted down the left wing before ripping a wrister from the left circle that sailed high over the right shoulder of Theodore to give Ottawa a 2-1 lead at the 8:28 mark.
"I haven't seen too many people get from the blue line at a dead stop to the hash marks and shoot the puck in the net like that in a real long time," MacLean said of the shot.
Chris Phillips registered a power-play goal and Jason Spezza added an empty- netter for the Senators. Former Panthers goaltender Craig Anderson turned away 25 shots in the triumph and improved to 9-0-1 in 11 career starts against Florida.
Next up for the Senators is a three-game homestand that's set to begin Sunday against Pittsburgh.
The Lightning will try to get their five-game homestand off to a quick start after splitting their last two games on the road. Friday's tilt at Tampa Times Forum is the Lightning's second home game of the year, following a 6-3 triumph over Washington on Saturday.
After dropping a 4-3 decision against the New York Islanders on Monday the Bolts rebounded the following night with a win at Carolina. Tom Pyatt and Cory Conacher netted first-period goals as the Lightning topped the Hurricanes by a 4-1 count in a Southeast Division battle.
Keith Aulie and Ryan Malone added third-period scores and Vincent Lecavalier posted two assists for the Lightning.
"It was important to get off to an early start and that carried us," Malone admitted.
Mathieu Garon stopped 35-of-36 shots for the victory, Tampa's fifth in the last six games in Raleigh.
Ottawa won all four meetings against the Lightning last season and has taken seven of 10 overall in this series. Tampa Bay has dropped two in a row and three of its last four home games versus the Sens.