The Ottawa Senators made clinching their return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs a dramatic occasion.
Rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson scored twice in the third period, including the game-tying goal with 7.7 seconds remaining, and the Senators got shootout tallies from Alex Kovalev and Jason Spezza in rallying for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday to the delight of the crowd at Scotiabank Place.
Spezza, who assisted on all three Ottawa goals in regulation, won a faceoff in the Carolina zone and Karlsson let rip with a drive from the point that Manny Legace got a piece of with his glove but couldn’t stop.
"Everybody knew what we were going to do out there if we won the faceoff and it was a really good faceoff by Spezza there," Karlsson said.
As soon as the Senators got the game into overtime, the point they earned was enough to clinch their first playoff berth since 2008. But when Spezza put the puck past Legace in the third round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker, he extended their winning streak to six straight -- earlier in the season, Ottawa won a franchise-record 11 in a row.
"We worked hard throughout the whole year and it's obviously nice," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We kind of knew, even though we clinched it today, that we were going to be in but it's nice to continue winning and we've got a good feeling and we're looking forward to the next week and then the playoffs."
Fellow blueliner Anton Volchenkov also scored for the Senators, who hold down fifth in the Eastern Conference with 89 points, five behind the Devils for fourth and seven in back of the Northeast Division-leading Sabres.
Jamie McBain, Chad LaRose and Brandon Sutter all scored for the Hurricanes, who came in still mathematically alive in the East but desperately needed two points. They ended the night still trailing the final playoff spot by five points with only four games to play.
"We should have had two points," said Legace, who made 32 saves. "The guy wins the draw clean and shoots it, it hits my glove and goes up in the air and goes in the net. It's unfortunate."
Sutter continued his terrific sophomore season by putting the Hurricanes back in front at the 7:04 mark, as his centering pass caromed past Brian Elliott and into the net. It was the 21st of the season for Sutter, who scored for the third straight game. He had just one goal in 50 games as a rookie.
Karlsson, just 19 years old, has erupted for eight points in his last four games, including three consecutive multi-point games. With the Senators trailing 2-1 entering the third, he drew them even at 1:49 with a wrist shot that beat Legace for his third goal of the season.
The first period was scoreless until Volchenkov moved into the slot and one-timed a Spezza pass into the net with 11.9 seconds remaining.
Carolina erased that deficit and moved in front with a pair of goals in the second. McBain, another talented young defenseman, notched his third goal in just 10 NHL games at 5:44 and the veteran LaRose made it 2-1 in favor of the visitors with 4:30 left in the period.
Material from wire services was used in this report.
1 - 0 OTT
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 CAR