OTTAWA -- Playing the second of back-to-back games, Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters wanted the energy some fresh players could provide.
The Hurricanes got it Saturday and it helped spark them to a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Hurricanes (15-25-5) trailed 2-1 in the third period, but Nathan Gerbe's goal with 5:41 left gave them the win.
Gerbe scored from the high slot when his shot through a screen beat Senators goaltender Craig Anderson high to the stick the side.
After losing 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, Carolina scratched forwards Alexander Semin and Andrej Nestrasil, and defenseman John-Michael Liles. Their places were taken by forwards Brad Malone and Chris Terry and defenseman Brett Bellemore.
Malone scored the first goal of the game playing on the fourth line with Patrick Dwyer and Jay McClement.
"Three fresh guys, three healthy guys, three good players. They all came in and they all found a way to contribute," Peters said. "I liked Terry's net front on the game winner … that's a good (fourth) line. I don't think I should mess with that line anymore for the foreseeable future. That line deserves to be kept together. Everything else is up for debate. That line has been good for a while for us."
The line had a number of strong shifts Saturday.
"It's a bonus, but it's starting to happen consistently now," Peters said of the offense from the fourth line. "We know what we're going to get out of those guys. They're finding their niche and they're asking and showing me they want more ice time."
Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin started his 14th game and made 30 saves. After a tough start to the season, he won his fourth in a row.
"I lost the first 10 games and I tried to find my game," he said. "I've been a little frustrated and stuff like that. Right now, I'm just more relaxed and not thinking about anything. Just stop the pucks."
Khudobin frustrated Senators captain Erik Karlsson, who had 11 shot attempts, with a couple of good saves.
"I had enough opportunities to make a season today," Karlsson said. "We did enough things to win this one. We've just got to find a way to put it in the white net instead of the black and the post and everything.
"I think we played well enough to win the game. We created enough scoring chances, and their goalie made saves that [goalies] normally don't make on a regular basis. We can't do anything about that."
The Senators (18-18-8) are trying to take advantage of a stretch when they play 12 of 15 games at home to pull themselves back into the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Anderson, playing his 400th NHL game, made 25 saves. He was left to lament the bounces that led to Gerbe's winning goal and one by Justin Faulk that tied it 2:21 into the third period.
Faulk's goal came 1:21 after Mark Stone gave the Senators a 2-1 lead. It was Stone's 11th goal of the season and extended his point streak to five games (two goals, four assists).
"The second [goal], it hits [Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch] and it's going 2 feet wide, and it turns and curls back in," Anderson said. "It was just one of those things where it was like someone had a remote control on the puck.
"The third one, coming through a little bit of traffic, it hits [Senators forward Jean-Gabriel] Pageau and changes, goes about 2 feet higher than it was supposed to. Lucky bounces, bad luck. We didn't get those bounces and they got them tonight."
Senators defenseman Cody Ceci scored the only goal of the second period to tie the game 1-1.
Senators coach Dave Cameron has been asking for a faster game and the goal was a result of that type of play.
The Senators moved the puck up the ice quickly and forward Erik Condra hit the Carolina zone with speed. Ceci jumped up through the neutral to join the rush down the right side. Condra's rising shot hit Khudobin in the left shoulder, and the puck went to Ceci in the right-wing circle, where he shot it into the open side of the net at 4:19.
The Senators were handed a good opportunity to take the lead when Hurricanes center Eric Staal took a swipe at a chest-high puck near the Ottawa net and struck Senators defenseman Jared Cowen in the face for a high-sticking penalty.
That advantage was nullified when Ottawa forward David Legwand was given a minor penalty for doing the same thing at the other end, striking Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason.
The goalies took over down the stretch in the second period. With the teams playing 4-on-4, Pageau broke in on the right wing and Khudobin stopped his short shot. Anderson made a sharp save on Gerbe, and Khudobin turned back Legwand after he grabbed the puck when he came out of the penalty box.
The Hurricanes are 5-2-1 in their past eight games.
"I think we've been playing really good hockey the last month and a half, two months," Gerbe said. "Unfortunately, our record doesn't show that. We're playing good. We've just got to keep that going. We know we can compete with a lot of teams in this league."
The Hurricanes are at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The Senators play at the New York Rangers on Tuesday.