Matt Stajan’s third-period goal leads Flames over Senators

Flames 2 Senators 1

OTTAWA — Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich was one save short of his first career shutout in Buffalo on Wednesday. He came one penalty shot stop away from one in Ottawa Friday, but he doesn’t care.

“We got two points, that’s it,” the Czech netminder said of wins in both games, including 2-1 over the Senators.

“I can get a shutout next game, in 10 games, 20 games, it doesn’t matter. We got two points and that’s more important right now.”

Sam Bennett and Matt Stajan scored for the Flames and Rittich made 29 saves in the win. It was the second straight for the Flames (34-25-10) after halting a four-game losing streak with a win their 5-1 win in Buffalo Wednesday night.

Jean Gabriel Pageau was the only Senators skater to beat Rittich, who was making just the 19th start of his career.

Mike Condon made 35 saves for the Senators (23-33-11) including a breakaway stop on Johnny Gaudreau with the score still 1-0 for Calgary early in the third period.

“Getting points now is huge and every game is a must-win,” Bennett said of the Flames push towards a playoff spot.

Calgary is one point back of the L.A. Kings for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Flames began their current three-game road trip with a 4-3 overtime loss in Pittsburgh.

“To pick up five of six (points) on this road trip is huge for us.”

Stajan gave the Flames a 2-0 lead at 11:42 of the third period when he redirected a pass from Curtis Lazar past Condon.

Shortly after, Pageau was hooked by Dougie Hamilton while on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. He beat Rittich through the legs at 12:55 to cut the lead to 2-1 and spoil Rittich’s bid for his first career shutout.

“It’s a tough situation and (Pageau) made a good move and scored, but I’m just happy we got two points,” said Rittich, who was talking to his posts after the Senators rang three shots off them in the third period.

“I just said I love you.”

Senators coach Guy Boucher certainly wasn’t a fan of the first period by either side, but said he felt his team got better as the game went on.

“The first period all around as a game, there wasn’t much physicality on either side. We definitely got better in the second and much better in the third and got a push,” Boucher said.

“I don’t think we did enough in front of their goaltender.”

The one goal through the first 40 minutes came in the opening period when Bennett took advantage of a number of bodies crashing the crease to give the Flames a 1-0 lead at 4:25 of the first period.

Boucher challenged the goal citing goaltender interference, but it took only a few seconds of review before it was deemed a good goal.

“I definitely felt a guy on my back leg when I was trying to sprawl to the right, but I asked the ref afterwards and he said our guy pushed him into me,” Condon explained.

“That’s what happened when there’s a scramble in front and guys are trying to box out and check sticks. People are flying everywhere and our guys are trying to make sure they don’t get to the net and get a free puck. It just happens.”

The biggest save of the first two periods came late in the second when Condon sprawled to make one after TJ Brodie’s shot went wide left before bouncing off the end boards right to Sean Monahan on the right of the goal.

Notes- Jim O’Brien and Erik Burgdoerfer were scratches for the Senators while Chris Stewart, Tanner Glass, Nick Shore and Matt Bartkowski were scratches for the Flames… Johnny Gaudreau’s 56-assists are most by a Flames skater since Alex Tanguay had 59 in 2006-07…Both Matt Stajan and Sam Bennett scored their first NHL goals against the Senators, Stajan in 2003 while with the Leafs and Bennett in 2015 with the Flames…The Senators open a two-game Florida swing on Monday against the Panthers. The Flames return home to face the NY Islanders on Sunday.

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