Craig Anderson has been a star since joining the Ottawa Senators, but backup Curtis McElhinney showed his worth on Friday.
McElhinney made 34 saves in his debut for Ottawa, helping the Senators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1.
McElhinney was claimed off waivers from the Lightning on Feb. 28. He never played for Tampa Bay, which obtained him four days earlier in a trade with Anaheim.
“It was such a short stay here, and I was on a plane right away after one skate,” McElhinney said. “Those things happen, but it was a great thing that happened.”
Anderson sat out for the first time since being obtained in a trade with Colorado on Feb. 18. He is 6-3 with a .956 save percentage in the Ottawa net.
“He’s being playing phenomenal for a while, but for me to get a chance to jump in there and contribute felt great,” McElhinney said. “To go out and put up a good performance and the guys score a few goals, it felt good.”
Jason Spezza opened the scoring for Ottawa (25-34-9) midway through the first period on a power play, backhanding a rebound past Dwayne Roloson. Bobby Butler scored the 53 seconds into the second to make it 2-0.
Butler praised defenceman Sergei Gonchar for setting up the game winner.
“I grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and chipped it through to (Gonchar),” Butler said. “He made a great play to get it back to me, and I just put it away.”
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Washington 2, Carolina 1; Detroit 2, Edmonton 1 (OT); Los Angeles 4, Columbus 2; New Jersey 3, Atlanta 2 (OT); Dallas 4, Minnesota 0; N.Y. Islanders 4, Boston 2; and Anaheim 6, Colorado 2.
At Tampa, Fla., the Lightning (38-22-8) held a two-man advantage when Martin St. Louis tipped in a rebound 2:53 into the third period. Ottawa had killed 33 consecutive penalties in 10 games before St. Louis broke through.
The Senators have won four consecutive road games.
“We’re giving the goaltenders that lead to play with,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. “It’s much easier to play the game when you’ve got the lead, but tonight, we’ll throw the third period away except for the fact that we found a way to win.”
The Lightning lost for the fifth time in six games.
“We need to figure out how to play a full 60 minutes,” Tampa Bay defenceman Mike Lundin said. “We do it against teams like Chicago and other teams at the top of the standings. We need to do it against every team because points are just as valuable no matter who you play.”
At Washington, D.C., Alex Ovechkin and Matt Hendricks scored in the third period and goalie Braden Holtby made 40 saves in the Capitals’ comeback victory over Carolina.
At Detroit, Pavel Datsyuk scored in overtime as the Red Wings beat Edmonton after tying it on a lucky deflection in the final minute of regulation.
At Columbus, Ohio, Anze Kopitar had his second career three-goal game and Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 shots for Los Angeles in handing the Blue Jackets their seventh consecutive loss.
At Atlanta, Travis Zajac scored on a power play 4:18 into overtime as surging New Jersey topped the Thrashers.
At Dallas, Trevor Daley ignited a three-goal flurry over a 1:31 span in the second period, andKari Lehtonen made 14 saves for his 15th career shutout to help the Stars beat Minnesota.
At Uniondale, N.Y., Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and Jack Hillen scored in a six-minute span in the second and third periods to help the Islanders to rally past Boston.
At Denver, Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists, and Corey Perry and Saku Koivu each had a goal and an assist to help Anaheim beat slumping Colorado.