This Senator Victory Could Be a Benchmark
If the Ottawa Senators find a way to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year, maybe they will look at their victory over New Jersey on Friday as the one that propelled them there.
Trailing by two goals after two periods and faced with the prospect of a third consecutive shutout loss to Martin Brodeur, the Senators found a way to win, 3-2, at East Rutherford, N.J.
“Right now, that was the biggest game of the year for us because we came back against a team like that,” said Shawn McEachern, who scored in a 3:35 span with Jason York and Denny Lambert.
“The first and second periods we weren’t a team with a lot of life,” McEachern added. “To get out of that and come back in the third hopefully will carry over for the rest of the season.”
The win, which Damian Rhodes preserved with 34 saves, moved the Senators four points ahead of idle Carolina in the fight for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa has eight games left and the Hurricanes have nine.
The loss handed the Devils their first three-game losing streak of the season, and this one had to be their most improbable.
It marked only the second time in 45 games (40-2-3) that New Jersey lost a lead after two periods. It also was only the second time Ottawa rallied to win after being down after two periods (2-29-4).
“I think everybody felt confident and sometimes you get caught in that,” said Brodeur, who faced only 17 shots.
“You feel they are not going to score and they are not going to come back. But they are fighting for their lives, they worked hard for the goals they got and we made mistakes.”
Even Rhodes had his doubts.
Heading into the third period, Brodeur had blanked Ottawa for 161 minutes.
“I didn’t know if we were ever going to score against Marty,” Rhodes said. “I skated by him after the second period and gave him a little nod [to say] that you’ve done a great job. I thought he was going to shut the door again in the third period, but our guys never stopped battling.”
Buffalo 5, Boston 4--Rookie Vaclav Varada scored two goals and assisted on one as the Sabres earned a much-needed victory at Buffalo, N.Y.
Varada scored two of Buffalo’s four goals in the second period as the Sabres won for the fifth time in six games and pulled into a three-way tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Curtis Brown, Matthew Barnaby and Brian Holzinger also scored for the Sabres, which avenged a 2-1 loss to Boston on March 21.
The Sabres are tied with the Bruins and Washington, one point ahead of Montreal. All four have eight games left.
Edmonton 4, Dallas 1--Curtis Joseph made 30 saves and Mats Lindgren broke a tie with a short-handed goal in the second and gave their playoff hopes a boost at Edmonton, Alberta.
The Oilers moved two points ahead of the idle San Jose Sharks in their battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Lindgren broke a 1-1 tie with his goal at 3:32 of the second period. Todd Marchant had a goal and two assists and Doug Weight had a goal and an assist for the Oilers. Dean McAmmond had Edmonton’s other goal.