OTTAWA – Senators star forward Jason Spezza snapped his mini-slump with a milestone career goal.
Spezza scored twice, including his 200th regular-season goal, to lead Ottawa to a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
“I’ve been struggling to put the puck in the net the last few games and it felt good to get on the board,”said Spezza, who hadn’t scored in his last 11 games.“It’s nice to score.”
David Rundblad and Zack Smith also scored for the Senators (11-10-2), while Craig Anderson faced 37 shots.
Patrick Dwyer, Eric Staal and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored for the Hurricanes (8-13-4), who have now lost seven of its last eight road games. Cam Ward stopped 21 shots.
Staal has had more than his share of offensive struggles this season, coming into the game with just four goals, 10 points and a league-leading -17 in plus/minus. Sunday’s goal was only his second in 19 games and the Hurricanes can only hope it will help get their captain going.
“He’s feeling the pressure of not putting the puck in the net,”said Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice of Staal.“At the end of the day confidence for a guy who scores goals is beating the goaltender.”
Carolina, which went 1 for 8 on the power play, has won just three of its last 13 (3-9-1) and is on a 0-2-1 skid.
“I thought we deserved a better fate (Sunday),”said Ward.“It’s frustrating when wins aren’t coming easy and you feel like you played a good game and you don’t get rewarded for it.”
The victory was the Senators first on home ice this month.
Ottawa opened the scoring just 55 seconds into the game as Spezza beat Ward low glove side on a goal that the Carolina netminder would likely want back.
The Hurricanes tied the game with five minutes remaining as Dwyer got around Jared Cowen and beat Anderson with a quick wrist shot.
The Senators regained the lead on Spezza’s second of the night and 200th NHL goal. With the Senators on the power play, defenceman Sergei Gonchar found Spezza who beat Ward far side.
Special teams were definitely a factor Sunday as the Hurricanes were 1-for-8 with the man advantage, while the Senators were 1-for-4.
“Anytime you take that many penalties special teams are going to be big,”said Smith.“We had great penalty killing that started with (Anderson).”
The second period saw both teams create some solid chances, with ‘Canes forward Jeff Skinner robbed by Anderson on a great chance.
After playing a solid period the Hurricanes looked defeated as they gave up a power-play goal just as the penalty to Brandon Sutter expired and 14 seconds remaining in the period. With heavy traffic in front of Ward, Ottawa’s Rundblad fired a shot from the point for his first NHL goal.
“It’s a relief to finally score,”said Rundblad.“I’ve been waiting for it since I came here. Every game I played I tried to just shoot and shoot and tonight it finally went in.”
Carolina made it close early in the third as Staal, at the side of the net, pounced on a rebound and beat Anderson.
“I was glad to score just to get it within one and give us a chance,”said Staal.“Our compete level was there, the guys worked, but we didn’t ultimately get the result we wanted and it still sucks.”
Ottawa regained it’s two-goal lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the third as Smith scored his fourth of the year to make it 4-2.
The Hurricanes made it a one-goal game again as Ponikarovsky scored on the power play with 3:11 remaining in the game.
Carolina then had one last power play to try and tie the game, but couldn’t covert.
“That was the difference in the game for us,”said Maurice of the struggling power play.“The rest of the game I liked. I thought we competed hard and handled the adversity’s of the game well, but to win it we needed to go 2-for-8 or 3-for-8.”
Notes: The Senators were without RW Chris Neil (ankle, indefinitely), C Peter Regin (shoulder, indefinitely), D Matt Carkner (knee, indefinitely). D Brian Lee was a healthy scratch. C Stephane DaCosta was sent down to Binghamton of the AHL, while Nikita Filatov was recalled by the Senators. The Hurricanes were without Jay Harrison (upper body, day-to-day). D Tomas Kaberle was a healthy scratch.