Maxime Talbot scored with 9.8 seconds left in regulation as the Penguins kept their chances for home ice advantage in the playoffs alive with a 3-2 victory over the Senators. “Both sides played like it was a playoff game,” said Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who faced 37 shots. “It should be a really good match-up.”
Michel Ouellet and Gary Roberts scored power-play goals for the Penguins (46-24-11).
Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley scored for the Senators (47-25-9) in front of 20,064 at Scotiabank Place. Ray Emery faced 27 shots.
The Penguins moved into a fourth-place tie with Ottawa in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have 103 points with one game left. The two teams are likely to face each other in the first round.
“I thought we played a pretty good hockey game,” said Spezza. “We let them get the win at the end.”
Spezza opened the scoring midway through the first with a power-play goal as he scored on his own rebound.
Just over a minute later, Colby Armstrong knocked Emery into the net creating a scrum between both teams.
Things continued to escalate after Jarkko Ruutu charged Spezza, who retaliated by elbowing Ruutu in the mouth. Spezza was assessed two minutes for roughing and a five-minute major for elbowing.
Despite the physical aspects of the game, neither team felt like they were trying to send a message.
“It was a pretty good game with lots of emotion,” added Spezza. “If that’s the way we play then it should be a pretty good series.”
Penguins’ coach Michel Therrien said the only message being sent is the fact Pittsburgh has beaten the Senators three times this year, twice in a shootout.
“It was a character win tonight,” said Therrien. “We kept our focus and learned how to win those types of games through the season.”
The Penguins scored twice on the ensuing power play to take a 2-1 lead. Ouellet tied the game at the 14-minute mark and Roberts gave the Penguins the lead as he beat Emery stick-side one minute later.
“It was a good battle tonight,” said Roberts. “It was a special team’s kind of night.”
Both teams finished the game 2-for-8 with the man advantage.
The Senators tied the game on a two-man advantage four minutes into the second period as Heatley picked up his 49th of the season.
“We know we’re going to play them now in the playoffs and we know we’re going to have to keep them off the power play,” said Heatley, who will look for his 50th goal Saturday night against the Boston Bruins. “It was a fun game. They have a bunch of little guys who like to run around so it should be a good series.”
Emery was frustrated to see the game end the way it did, but doesn’t believe it should have any effect on the playoffs.
“We had a lot more adrenaline than we normally do and maybe we got a lesson on how to use it in a positive way,” he said. “I think if we make a few adjustments we should be pretty good.”
Senators’ defenceman Tom Preissing did not play in the third period due to soreness in the groin. He will be re-evaluated Friday.
The Senators finished the regular season with a 1-1-2 record against the Penguins.
Notes: Ottawa RW Patrick Eaves missed his fourth straight game (lower body injury, day-to-day) D Lawrence Nycholat and RW Brian McGrattan were healthy scratches…The Penguins D Joel Kwiatkowski, D Alain Nasreddine, C Chris Thorburn, RW Georges Laraque and RW Nils Ekman were healthy scratches.