Ray Emery makes 35 saves to lead Ottawa to 4-2 win over Florida

Patrick Eaves, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Dean McAmmond scored for Ottawa, which completed a four-game sweep of the season series against Florida with a 4-2 win Thursday night. Ray Emery made 35 saves for the Senators, who have won five of six.

“I think I play better when I get some action and get to feel the puck,” Emery said. “After we got the lead I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside, but it was busy enough that I didn’t lose focus. We feel good but we realize we can’t take any nights off and cruise to victories.”

Jozef Stumpel and Olli Jokinen scored for Florida. Ed Belfour gave up four goals on nine shots, including three goals on the first three shots of the second period. He was pulled for Craig Anderson at 12:01 of the second.

“Tonight is one of those nights where he (Belfour) just didn’t come up with the saves,” Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. “Their goaltender was good. He made some big saves. You have to give him credit.”

Anderson had 10 saves for Florida. It was his first extensive play for Florida since replacing the injured Alex Auld on Feb. 19. Anderson played less than one minute at Atlanta on March 6.

“Even when it is 4-0 it’s my job to get in there and shut the door and try to get back in the game,” Anderson said. “It felt good to get a good first save.”

The Senators took a 2-0 lead on Spezza’s power-play goal in the middle period. Joe Corvo’s slap shot from the top of the right circle deflected off Spezza’s stick and over Belfour’s blocker at 5:26.

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“I just went to the net and it kind of went off me,” Spezza said. “We’re playing a little bit smarter, tightening up defensively, capitalizing on our chances and playing with confidence.”

Heatley stretched Ottawa’s lead to 3-0 at 9:31 when his shot from the edge of the right circle went over Belfour’s blocker. It was Heatley’s team-leading 43rd goal.

“It’s nice to contribute but I think we’ve been getting production from everybody lately,” Heatley said. “That’s a good sign going into the playoffs.”

McAmmond’s goal gave Ottawa a 4-0 lead and chased Belfour. He took the puck in the slot and pushed it past Belfour on the stick side.

The Panthers made it 4-1 at 18:22 of the second when Rostislav Olesz’s backhanded shot deflected off Stumpel’s stick and under Emery’s pads. It was Florida’s first goal against Ottawa in four games this season. The Panthers hadn’t scored against the Senators since Gary Roberts’ goal on Nov. 24. The drought spanned 174 minutes, 53 seconds.

Jokinen made it 4-2 when his backhanded shot slipped past Emery at 11:22 of the third.

Ottawa took a 1-0 lead on Eaves’ goal at 2:31 of the first. Eaves picked up a loose puck after a Panthers turnover in the right circle. He took it into the low slot and backhanded it by Belfour on the glove side.

Notes: Panthers C Chris Gratton, a 13-year veteran, played in his 1,000 NHL game. The 31-year-old Gratton was honoured during a pre-game ceremony. Only one other Panthers player, Martin Gelinas (1,208), has played in more games. … Belfour has made 25 consecutive starts. … Heatley has scored six goals in Ottawa’s four wins over Florida.