OTTAWA – Nearing the end of a disappointing season, the Ottawa Senators had one more chance to send their fans home from Scotiabank Place happy.
Mission accomplished, thanks to a rare goal from Filip Kuba.
Kuba scored the winning goal 1:16 into overtime Thursday night as the Ottawa Senators won their last home game of the season, 3-2 over the Montreal Canadiens.
Kuba scored his second of the season when his point shot went through the legs of Montreal netminder Alex Auld. After going Kuba went 59 games without a goal this season, Kuba now has two in his last four games.
“It’s been a lot more fun, not just in the past couple of weeks but since the trade deadline,”said Kuba, who missed the first 16 games of the regular season after suffering a knee injury on the first day of training camp. “We’ve put together some wins and it’s been a lot of fun in the locker-room. It’s great to win and great to win for the fans here.”
The fans in Ottawa haven’t had much to cheer about this season. The Senators (32-39-10) will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years after enjoying a string of 11 straight trips to the post-season, including a Stanley Cup final appearance in 2007. Still, a number of fans remained to cheer their team one last time as the Senators saluted the crowd following Kuba’s goal.
Ottawa wraps up its season Saturday in Boston.
Mike Cammalleri forced overtime with 11 seconds to play in the third period as he took a perfect cross-ice pass form Andrei Kostitsyn and beat Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson.
Bobby Butler scored a highlight-reel goal to give the Senators a 2-1 lead, and an apparent regulation-time win, a little more than two minutes before Cammalleri’s goal.
Butler took a pass from Jason Spezza along the boards and cut inside on Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill before beating Auld with a shot to the top left corner.
“Too bad they tied it up with 10 seconds to play. It wasn’t what we wanted after Bobby scored his highlight goal, but we’re just happy we could pull it off in overtime,” Kuba said.
Spezza also scored for the Senators, giving him 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his last seven games.
“I think it’s the most complete I’ve played,” Spezza said. “I’m getting a chance to play in all situations and I’m getting a lot of minutes and finding a way to be opportunistic. Things are going well for the team and myself personally and usually that goes hand in hand.”
Butler added an assist for Ottawa, and Anderson made 26 saves.
Brian Gionta scored in regulation for the Canadiens (43-30-8), while Auld made 29 saves.
The Canadiens missed an opportunity to take a stranglehold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They lead the seventh-place Buffalo Sabres by two points. The Sabres have two games remaining and a game in hand on the Canadiens.
After Spezza scored in the opening minute of the third period to tie the game 1-1, the Canadiens had a glorious opportunity to regain the lead. Ottawa’s Francis Lessard assessed a major penalty for hitting from behind as well as a game misconduct as he ran Tom Pyatt into the end boards behind the Ottawa net as Pyatt chased down a loose puck.
The Canadiens only managed one shot during the power play, just as the penalty expired.
“I thought we played well we worked hard for two periods and in the third period they capitalized on their opportunities,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said.
“We didn’t play with the same intensity that we had earlier. We have one game to play and I think it’s important to finish the season well.”
Gionta scored the only goal of the opening 40 minutes at 13:12 of the second period. Anderson made the initial save on a shot from James Wisniewski, but Gionta came in from the right side and had an open net and scored from three feet out.
Notes: The Senators’ revolving from door to and from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton continued Thursday as they recalled Andre Benoit, Erik Condra, David Hale, Colin Greening and Derek Smith.…Senators forward Jesse Winchester played in his 200th NHL game Thursday.…Brian Gionta is the Canadiens’iron man with a 123-game consecutive streak. He last missed a game on Dec. 26, 2009.…Canadiens centre Tom Pyatt played in his 100th NHL game Thursday night.