OTTAWA – Even when they play well enough to win, the struggling Ottawa Senators still seem to find a way to lose.
Bryan Little scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway in overtime after taking advantage of a Jason Spezza giveaway, and the Atlanta Thrashers beat the Senators 4-3 Monday.
After Spezza coughed the puck up in the offensive zone, Little streaked down the right side and beat Senators goalie Brian Elliott with a quick shot.
Despite outshooting the Thrashers 13-7 in the third period and 30-24 overall, the Senators had to settle for a single point—and even that didn’t come easy.
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, the Senators fought their way back with goals from Chris Neil at 5:48 and Spezza, on a penalty shot, at 7:23.
“We battled back and we knew we were playing well, it was just a matter of getting some pucks in the net,” Senators forward Nick Foligno said following the loss, the Senators’ third in four games.
“It’s unfortunate to see it go away with a breakaway goal, but we have to hold our heads high because I thought we played well. Any points count and we need them going forward. It’s disappointing because we wanted two now we just have to get ready for (the next game) and not let this bother us.”
Jim Slater and Dustin Byfuglien had the other goals for the Thrashers (16-11-3), but it was the work of Ondrej Pavelec in goal that allowed the Thrashers to steal two points in a game where they were largely outchanced.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson ended a lengthy slump, scoring the other goal for the Senators (13-16-2).
Pavelec said despite the late comeback by the Senators, the Thrashers did what they needed to do to get their 10th win in their past 12 games.
“They scored two goals in the third but we did a good job in overtime and got the two points,” Pavelec said.
“The first two periods there weren’t a lot of shots and I was a little bit lucky because they spent a lot of time in our end. In the third we had some turnovers and they scored, but like I said we did a good job in overtime and got the win.”
The Thrashers headed into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead despite being outplayed in the opening period.
Slater tipped an Eric Boulton shot past Elliott at 9:36 to open the scoring, then Little corralled a rebound off a point shot and scored to give the visitors a 2-0 lead at 17:18.
Byfuglien did most of the work on the second the goal as he played keep-away from the Senators before pausing at the point and unleashing a shot that eventually found its way to Little.
The Thrashers increased their lead to 3-0 late in the second period, seconds after the Senators misfired on a 2-on-0 break. Rich Peverley crashed the crease, jarring the puck loose for Elliott’s grasp. As the puck rolled towards the goal-line, Byfuglien raced in from the slot and poked it into the net at 17:38.
Alfredsson scored less than a minute later. It was his first goal in 13 games and his first point in 11.
“It was nice to get it, there’s no question. The timing was good at the end of the period as well and it gave us good momentum going into the third,” Alfredsson said.
“The way we came back felt really good and I thought we played with a lot of energy. I thought we deserved more than one point but it’s encouraging that we kept plugging away.”
Alfredsson went 13 games without a goal two seasons ago, but his longest previous pointless stretch was seven back in his rookie season in 1995.
Notes: Monday’s game was the 700th home contest in franchise history for the Senators…Alex Kovalev has just one assist in his last eight games…the Senators are 23-12-2-5 all time versus the Thrashers and 13-4-1-4 at home…The Thrashers are 17-23-2-0 all time versus the Senators and 8-13-1-0 in Ottawa…Thrashers defenceman Johnny Oduya scored his first two goals of the season 1:18 apart Dec. 11 in a 5-4 win over the NY Islanders. It was his first two-goal game since March 28, 2008 when he was a member of the New Jersey Devils…Tobias Enstrom played his 277th consecutive game Monday, a Thrashers’record…Eric Boulton is the only player in the NHL with a plus or even rating in every game he has appeared in this season among players who have played a minimum of 24 games.