RALEIGH, N.C. – The Hurricanes weren’t particularly sharp against the Ottawa Senators, but at this time of the season, getting a win is all that matters.
Carolina spotted the last-place Senators a 2-0 lead, but rallied behind Chad LaRose’s two goals and 36 saves from Cam Ward for a 4-3 win.
The Hurricanes stayed three points behind eighth-place Buffalo in the Eastern Conference standings. They have nine games left, including six in a 10-day stretch starting Friday at Tampa Bay.
“It was a good win, but I think we’re lacking something,” Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu said. “We can still get better. I feel like we play 10 minutes pretty good and then for a couple of minutes, they are all over us.”
That’s exactly what happened against Ottawa, which took the lead in the first. Carolina then scored twice in 25 seconds late in the period, and LaRose gave Carolina the lead for good at 18:17 of the second.
Cory Stillman added a third-period goal off a nifty give-and-go with Eric Staal as the Hurricanes won their seventh in a row against Ottawa at the RBC Center.
Ottawa outshot Carolina 39-24, but couldn’t rattle Ward.
“Cam was holding us in the game, and once we got one (goal), we settled down,” said LaRose, who had his first two-goal game since Nov. 17, also a home win over the Senators.
Though several players wondered after the win how Buffalo was faring—the Sabres won 2-0 at Montreal—other Hurricanes said they can’t do much scoreboard-watching.
“We have to worry about ourselves, winning games, getting two points,” LaRose said.
The Hurricanes scored four times on their first 19 shots against Curtis McElhinney despite continued struggles on the power play. Carolina was scoreless on three man-advantages Tuesday, dropping to four for its last 77 on the power play.
Erik Karlsson, Colin Greening and Marek Svatos scored for Ottawa. Greening gave the Senators the lead after Ward denied Jason Spezza on a breakaway. Svatos corralled his own shot off Ward and scored with 6:20 left in the first for a 2-0 Senators lead.
Ruutu and LaRose then scored 25 seconds apart to tie it. Ruutu redirected Jussi Jokinen’s dribbler at 14:07. LaRose then took a pass from Joni Pitkanen and fired the puck past McElhinney, who made 20 saves.
“I think Mac probably wanted that one back, and to give up another one like that was tough,” Ottawa’s Ryan Shannon said. “That was a big momentum swing, that second goal.”
Notes: Staal left in the third period, but Carolina coach Paul Maurice said his exit was “precautionary.” Maurice expects Staal to play against the Lightning. … Carolina improved to 23-1-0 when leading after two periods, while Ottawa fell to 1-23-4 when trailing after two. … Pitkanen, who had a first-period assist, has 25 points in his last 28 games (11 goals, 14 assists). … Carolina’s penalty kill has been solid of late, killing off 44 of the last 49 penalties. … The two-goal first period marked the first time the Senators had scored more than one goal at the RBC Center since their last win in Raleigh, 6-0 on Dec. 12, 2007.