OTTAWA – After a franchise best 11-game winning streak was snapped by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, the Ottawa Senators started a new one on Tuesday.
Jason Spezza scored the game-winner and added an assist as the Senators beat the Calgary Flames 3-2.
Since returning from a 20-game absence with a knee injury, Spezza has eight goals and two assists in the eight games. He has scored in every one of those games with the exception of Saturday’s 5-0 loss in Toronto.
“I’m just trying to get myself around the net and capitalizing on my chances,” said Spezza. “The team is playing real well and individuals do well when the team is playing well.
“We’ve got to win a couple of games here and then get some rest (during the Olympics). These are important games and everybody’s looking forward to the rest. It’s been a tough grind.”
Spezza scored the winning goal late in the second period and Brian Elliott made 29 saves, including two huge stops as Calgary pressed for the tying goal in the dying seconds. Elliott was pulled after allowing four goals on 30 shots Saturday.
“It didn’t take us long to get back out on the ice and prove that we’re the team that we are. We’ve just got to keep doing this on every night and not have off nights,” Elliott said.
Alex Kovalev and Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Senators (34-22-4), who outshot the Flames 31-29 and were 1-for-3 on the power play.
The Flames (29-22-9) got a goal and an assist each from Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman as well as two assists from captain Jarome Iginla. Mikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves in the Calgary goal.
“I’m not happy at all,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. “That game was there for us tonight to get some points and we just didn’t play a good enough game here after the first 28 minutes to expect to win. It wasn’t good enough.”
The Flames took a 2-1 lead early in the second period as Stajan took a pass from Iginla inside the Senators blue-line, split the defence and went backhand to forehand and put a shot over top of Elliott and in at 3:18.
The Senators responded with two fortuitous bounces to take a 3-2 lead before the end of the period.
The first came at 9:36 as Ruutu was heading out of the Flames zone when he found a loose puck at his feet in the faceoff circle. He turned and fired a shot past an unsuspecting Kiprusoff to tie the game.
Seven minutes later Spezza had an empty net to shoot at as Jonathan Cheechoo’s pass deflected off the stick of Adam Pardy and right to Spezza, who buried his 13th goal of the season.
“We worked hard on the forecheck and that caused them to make mistakes,” said Spezza. “Cheech made a good pass and whether that went off his stick or not, I’ve probably got an open net so Cheech made a good play.”
Those weren’t the only two bounces the Senators got during the game either. After Hagman opened the scoring for the Flames at 16:51 of the first period, Kovalev took a shot that bounced off Calgary defenceman Daymond Langkow’s skate and past Kiprusoff 19 seconds later.
Notes: Cheechoo played in his 500th NHL game Tuesday night. … Senators forward Nick Foligno missed his fourth straight game Tuesday with a broken leg, while defenceman Erik Karlsson missed his second with a shoulder injury. … Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester holds the longest current ironman streak in the NHL with 402 consecutive games played. … The Flames have allowed just one short-handed goal against this season, the least in the NHL. … Attendance at Scotiabank Place was 18,682.