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MASSIVE WIN

Flames beat Ottawa to collect five of six points on road trip

by LAURENCE HEINEN @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

Sam Bennett got things started, while goalie David Rittich came up big to backstop the Flames to a 2-1 road win over the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

Bennett scored in the first period and Matt Stajan added an insurance marker in the third for the Flames, who received a 29-save performance from Rittich to win their second straight game.

"He stood on his head tonight," said Bennett of Rittich. "The last two games he's played great hockey. It gives us a lot of confidence when you have a goalie like that."

Although Rittich gave up a penalty-shot goal to Jean-Gabriel Pageau at 12:55 of the third period, he earned a measure of revenge by making a great pad save to deny another scoring opportunity by the speedy Ottawa forward just minutes later.

"What a huge save," coach Glen Gulutzan said emphatically after the Flames (34-25-10) finished their road trip with a 2-0-1 record to pull within one point of the Los Angeles Kings (37-25-5) for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. "It's the timing of the saves that becomes really important. That was a huge save for our hockey club. That should be 2-2. He makes a hell of a save."

Mike Condon finished with 35 saves for the Senators (23-34-11).

For the second game in a row, Bennett opened the scoring for the Flames.

"We've addressed it and we do need that secondary scoring and that secondary help," said Bennett. "I think it's big for our whole team when other guys start producing offensively."

Bennett, who notched the first goal of Calgary's 5-1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo two nights earlier, collected his own rebound and backhanded it past Condon at 4:25 of the opening frame against the Senators.

Calgary outshot Ottawa 14-9 in the first and 10-9 in the second, but weren't able to build on their lead heading into the final frame.

Rittich did a great job to keep the Senators off the scoreboard during an Ottawa powerplay mid-way through the second stanza. After stopping a slap shot by Mike Hoffman, Rittich then made a pad save to deny a great scoring opportunity by Marian Gaborik.

Calgary's top line had a great chance to put the Flames up by a pair late in the middle frame, but Condon made a blocker save to stop a shot by Sean Monahan before kicking out his left pad to turn aside a pair of shots off the stick of Micheal Ferland.

Johnny Gaudreau then took a breakaway pass from Monahan just past the one-minute mark of the third and got a good shot on net, but was denied by Condon.

The Flames went up 2-0 at 11:42 of the third when Stajan tapped in a feed from Curtis Lazar, who started his career with the Senators before being acquired by the Flames before last season's trade deadline.

Pageau then converted on his penalty-shot opportunity 73 seconds later after he was hauled down on a breakaway by Dougie Hamilton.

The Senators pushed hard to notch the equalizer, but the Flames held off their charge with Condon on the bench for an extra attacker.

"We'll take those two points and fly home," Stajan said. "It's nice to get the two points, but we've got to learn how to close out games in this league. It's good we found a way and got the saves when we needed it, but we learned from the last five minutes there. It's not the way we would have liked to close it out when we have a 2-0 lead."

 

ONE-TIMERS:

The Flames have outshot their opponents 67-35 in the first period of their last four games, while outscoring them 6-3  … Stajan is closing in on a significant milestone in his NHL career. He needs to suit up for just six more contests to reach the 1,000-games-played plateau.

 

NEXT UP:

The Flames return to Calgary to kick off a three-game homestand against the New York Islanders at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday (5 p.m. MT, TV: Sportsnet West, RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The Fan). The Battle of Alberta will then resume on Tuesday (7 p.m. MT, TV: Sportsnet West, RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The Fan) when the Flames host the Edmonton Oilers.

 

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