Zdeno Chara had a goal and an assist, and Martin Prusek made 39 saves to lead the surging Senators to a 3-1 victory over the Flyers on Friday night.
Despite a number of big hits, the much-anticipated game was less combative than the previous meeting.
In the Flyers' 5-3 victory on March 5, the teams combined for an NHL-record 419 penalty minutes. The feud continued off-ice following the game, with each squad blaming the other for instigating the fighting.
The rematch produced only six minor penalties totaling 12 minutes. The only fight occurred in the stands between a fan wearing a Senators jersey and one member favoring the home team.
``Everybody was really talking about this game and had different thoughts on what kind of game it would be,'' Chara said. ``But both teams were really focusing on the two points. We weren't going to risk that by fighting.''
Antoine Vermette and Peter Bondra also scored for the Senators, 4-0-1 in their last five. Ottawa pulled into a tie with Boston for the Northeast Division lead and the second spot in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa, which faces Toronto on Saturday, holds the tiebreaker with three more victories, but the Bruins have two games left to the Senators' one.
``We have to keep playing smart and not try to do too much,'' Bondra said. ``Just play our game and hopefully everything will take care of itself.''
Michal Handzus scored the lone goal for the Flyers, who lead New Jersey by two points in the race for the Atlantic Division title. New Jersey will play Boston on Saturday and Sunday, and Philadelphia will close the regular season at the New York Islanders on Sunday.
The Flyers lost for the third time in four games and got another shaky performance from goalie Robert Esche.
Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock refused to name his playoff goaltender after Sean Burke's shut out Montreal on Thursday, delaying his decision until Monday. Esche didn't help his case with another poor outing.
``You create your own luck. I'm a believer in that,'' said Esche, expected to start the regular-season finale. ``It could be just a snap of the fingers.''
In the days leading up to Friday's rematch, the Flyers and Senators stressed the importance of playoff positioning over physical play. But 2:50 in, the feistiness returned.
At the end of his first shift, Senators defenseman Anton Volchenkov threw his fist and the top of his stick into Branko Radivojevic's face. Radivojevic laid on the ice for several minutes before skating back to the bench under his own power. No penalty was called.
The Flyers responded with a series of checks from forwards Keith Primeau and Mark Recchi. Philadelphia seized the momentum and generated several scoring chances in the next few minutes until Esche misplayed a wrist shot by Vermette that gave the Senators a 1-0 lead with 5:25 left in the opening period.
Esche, who has allowed 10 goals in losing his last three starts, deflected the shot over his head with his blocker before the puck rolled softly into the net.
``It's not a great goal. It's not even a decent goal,'' Esche said. ``Right now, that seems to be the way things are going for me.''
Philadelphia tied it 9:34 into the second on an attempted pass from Handzus that deflected off Wade Redden's skate past Prusek.
But less than two minutes later, Chara fired a slap shot from the blue line that Esche again deflected over his shoulder and into the net. Chara's 16th goal of the season was also his career-high 40th point.
Chara added an assist on Bondra's 26th goal 9:42 into the third.
Prusek, who was pulled Wednesday night after allowing three goals on 18 shots at Florida, made several saves from point-blank range in the final two periods to preserve this victory.
''(Prusek) was crucial tonight,'' Chara said. ``He made some huge saves and made the difference when we needed him.''
|Antoine Vermette (7) ASST: Marian Hossa (46), Radek Bonk (32)|
1 - 0 OTT
|Michal Handzus (20) ASST: Mark Recchi (49), Kim Johnsson (29)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Zdeno Chara (16) ASST: Chris Phillips (16), Peter Schaefer (24)|
2 - 1 OTT
|PPG - Peter Bondra (26) ASST: Zdeno Chara (25), Bryan Smolinski (27)|
3 - 1 OTT
|Shaun Van Allen Interference against John Leclair|
|Peter Bondra Hi-sticking against Sami Kapanen|
|Donald Brashear Interference against Chris Neil|
|Daniel Alfredsson Tripping against Michal Handzus|
|Danny Markov Holding against Antoine Vermette|
|Radek Bonk Cross checking against Keith Primeau|