OTTAWA — The Senators are finding it difficult to stay focused with the NHL's trade deadline quickly approaching.
Nikita Kucherov picked up two assists Thursday night to hit the 80-point mark as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Senators 4-3 in Ottawa.
Senators players are well aware of Monday's deadline at 3 p.m. EST, and some hinted it can't come soon enough so the distraction can be over with.
"There's definitely a little bit of anxiety in here," said Mark Borowiecki.
"You'd be foolish to say that it's not playing a bit of a role. I've been here four years now and this is the most rumours I've seen for a lot of guys, a lot of core guys in here, and you really do your best to cut it out, but we're all humans. At some point it's going to creep in a little bit."
Tampa was able to jump out to a 4-1 lead before the Senators made it close.
Kucherov, the NHL's leading producer, is the first player to reach 80 points this season. He has 32 goals and 48 assists in 61 games.
Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Vladislav Namestnikov and Brayden Point scored for the Lightning (41-17-3). Louis Domingue picked up his third win of the season stopping 33 shots.
Borowiecki, Ryan Dzingel and Derick Brassard scored for the Senators (21-29-10), who have now lost three in a row (0-2-1). Craig Anderson made 20 saves.
The loss snapped the Senators' five-game winning streak on home ice.
Brassard made it a one-goal game by scoring a power-play goal with just over two minutes remaining, but the Senators were unable to complete the comeback.
Brassard is one of a handful of Ottawa players mentioned among the trade rumours and says it's hard to ignore the talk.
"We have a couple of days before the deadline, but we have to play, we have to do our job and we have to play for each other and the rest will take care of itself," said Brassard.
"We all have phones and social media and even on TV. It's part of the business. I've been there before and there's nothing you can do. You try to block it and try to play. We're still trying to get better as a team and still trying to push. We just have to come here and basically play and whatever is going to happen Monday is going to happen and you just move on after."
Ottawa made it 4-2 midway through the third as Borowiecki, with his third of the season, had a wide-open net after catching Domingue out of position. The goal was initially waved off due to goaltender interference, but the Senators challenged and upon review it was a good goal.
The Lightning took a 3-1 lead three minutes into the second as Kucherov fed Namestnikov, who was able to break in alone and beat Anderson.
Ottawa had a number of chances to try and close the gap, but just couldn't beat Domingue.
Tampa made it 4-1 with under one second left in the second period when Point was left all alone in front and made no mistake, scoring five-hole for his 24th of the season.
The Lightning opened the scoring midway through the period as Johnson beat Anderson high from long range. Chris Kunitz picked up his 600th career point with an assist on the goal.
Ottawa tied the game at the 14-minute mark as Dzingel showed off some sweet stick work and tucked a puck in behind Domingue for his 16th of the season.
Less than two minutes later the Lightning regained the lead as they hemmed the Senators in their own end and Hedman finished things beating Anderson through the legs from in close.
Bobby Ryan returned to the Senators lineup after missing 10 games with a hand injury. Ryan says he feels his hand is as close to 100 per cent as it's going to get after three weeks off.
Notes: LW Max McCormick and D Frerik Claesson were healthy scratches for the Senators. Tampa D Andrej Sustr and C Cory Conacher were healthy scratches.
The Canadian Press