Don't count out the Ottawa Senators
scored a pair of power-play goals in the first period, and Brendan Bell
broke a 2-2 tie with just 1:22 left in regulation Tuesday night as the Sens eked out a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals
at Scotiabank Place.
With the win, Ottawa (16-21-7) improved to 39 points, including seven in its last four games. The Senators, who have made the playoffs in each of the last 11 seasons, trail eighth-place Carolina by 12 points — but have four games in hand on the Hurricanes, who beat Pittsburgh 2-1.
The Senators go into the All-Star break on a 3-0-1 run. They'll return to the ice next Tuesday, when they host the New Jersey Devils
"We wanted to end on a good note, and it was a big goal by Brendan in the third period," said Heatley, who now has 21 goals this season. "We get a few days off and get back at it, and try to make a run here."
Bell -- who had been a healthy scratch the past three games -- gave his team a ton of momentum heading into the break when his shot from the right side beat Jose Theodore
for a power-play tally. It was just his fourth goal of the season. The Sens were given a man advantage when Alexander Semin
was whistled for tripping Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson
"In my role, I got a chance on the power play and not a lot of guys get that opportunity, so you make the most of it," Bell said.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
was less than pleased with Semin after the talented forward put his team a man down. The Capitals were coming off a 2-1 overtime victory on Long Island on Monday afternoon.
"It's a question of stupid, dumb, selfish -- it's just not winning hockey," Boudreau said. "The bottom line is with three minutes to go, you don't go cross-ice pass in the zone. You get it at the net.
"When you're on the road you play for the tie and then you win it in overtime. That's what we did (on Monday), and that's what you have to do today. That's what winning is all about, and you've got to learn how to win. Right now, there are some guys that know how to play, they just don't know how to win."
The Caps rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second period after Heatley scored twice on the power play in the first. Sergei Fedorov
got Washington on the board just 37 seconds into the period, when he one-timed a feed from Semin past rookie Brian Elliott
for his fifth goal of the season. Dave Steckel's sixth tally tied it at 9:58.
Elliott, who made his fifth straight start, closed the door after that to keep his team in the game. The Senators were outshot 19-3 in the second period.
"They outplayed us in the first and in the third, and they got a late power play, and they had a good power play tonight," said Theodore, who was 9-2-0 in his previous 11 starts.
Ottawa certainly got things going in the third, when it outshot Washington by a margin of 18-5. Bell notched the game-winner when he took a cross-ice pass from Antoine Vermette
and attempted to thread his own pass back across the slot. The feed was blocked and bounced right back to him, and he was able to fire a shot past Theodore. The Senators finished 3-for-6 on the power play.
"It was a fortunate bounce that just landed back on my stick," Bell said. "Anytime that you can get three goals on the power play, it's great. Not all of them were pretty, but we'll take them."
Heatley -- Ottawa's lone representative at this weekend's All-Star Game in Montreal -- was happy to see Bell get rewarded for his hard work.
"It was a big goal for the team and for him," Heatley said. "He was steady tonight, made some great plays five-on-five and on the power play. It was great to see him get the winner."
-- who leads the League with 31 goals and will also be in Montreal this weekend -- was held off the scoresheet. He had six shots on goal and wasn't happy with the outcome.
"We just stopped playing," he said.
Material from wire services was used in this report.