OTTAWA — There is still some life in the Ottawa Senators.
Milan Michalek and Kyle Turris scored twice Sunday as the Senators defeated the Calgary Flames 6-3, giving Ottawa seven points in its past four games. The win moves the Sens to within six points of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with eight games remaining.
“We’ll have to continue to play hard in those games and I’ll like where we’ll be at the 82-game mark. I might be dreaming but that’s what I believe,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
Clarke MacArthur scored on a tip in 13 minutes into the third period after Jared Cowen had given the Senators a 4-3 lead a little over a minute into the third period.
That third period was what allowed the Senators to keep their hopes alive.
“We were very pleased with how we played the third period, giving up six shots, and the way we put the game away was good,” MacLean said.
Turris scored into an empty net and Robin Lehner made 37 saves allowing the Senators (31-29-14) to win back-to-back games on home ice for the first time since they won three straight in late December and early January.
“In the third we continued to play our game and we were smarter and made better decisions,” said Turris, who also had an assist. “We put the puck deep when we were up by one or two and we played our game the whole way through, we just made smarter decisions in the third.”
Matt Stajan, Paul Byron and Sean Monahan scored for the Flames (31-37-7) and Karri Ramo made 31 saves.
The Flames could not have played a much better period than they did in the second as they outshot the Senators 21-9, but the best they were able to do after taking a 3-2 lead was go into the second intermission tied 3-3.
Ottawa native Byron scored four minutes into the period for the Flames to tie the game as he corralled a rebound in the slot and put a shot into the top corner.
It was only Byron’s third career game in his hometown and he has a goal in two of those games. He scored his first goal in his second NHL game in early 2011 when he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
“I always enjoy playing in Ottawa in front of friends and family and I appreciative of all the things they’ve done for me over the years,” said Byron, who played his junior hockey across the Ottawa River with the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, where he starred alongside Claude Giroux, now captain of the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It’s hard to stay focused sometimes and you get distracted getting tickets and putting people on lists to see after (the game). I just try to stay focused and I’m happy I have success here.”
A little more than three minutes after Byron tied the game, former Ottawa 67’s standout Sean Monahan scored to give the Flames a 3-2 lead as he picked the corner over Lehner’s left shoulder.
The goal was the 20th of the season for Monahan, making him the third rookie this season to reach that plateau along with Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche (23) and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning (22).
Losing that lead wasn’t something Monahan or the rest of the Flames were particularly proud of.
“I don’t know what it was but like I said it’s not a game we can lose and it’s pretty upsetting. They capitalized on their chances and they put the puck in the back of the net. That’s something that we can fix and they’re simple mistakes,” Monahan said.
“We had a lot of chances and unfortunately we couldn’t capitalize on some of them. At the end of the day we have to find a way to pull out the win.”
The Senators had gone into the second period with a 2-1 lead as Michalek sandwiched goals around one from Stajan.
Michalek opened the scoring when he redirected a point shot from Erik Karlsson past Ramo at 10:42.
Less than three minutes later though, Stajan jumped into the slot and buried a pass from behind the net past Lehner.
Michalek re-established a one-goal lead for the Senators thanks to some terrific patience from Jason Spezza.
The Senators’ captain moved around a sliding Calgary defenceman behind the goal-line, cut back out in front and slid a backhand pass that Michalek buried for a 2-1 lead.