'Canes, refs stop Senators

Senators forward Colin Greening tries to make a pass in front of Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward at...

Senators forward Colin Greening tries to make a pass in front of Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., April 3, 2012. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 AM ET

OTTAWA - Senators vs. Bruins?

First round of the playoffs?

With a first-round date with the Bruins drawing closer to reality, the Senators will lick their wounds from a 2-1 loss to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes and prepare for an increasingly probable series preview on Thursday when the defending champs roll into town.

The Senators had their share of chances against the Hurricanes, but some contentious officiating — including a disallowed tying goal by Chris Neil (a Nick Foligno shot bounced in off his arm) — and some brilliant work in the Carolina net by Cam Ward ended a four-game winning streak.

“(The disallowed goal) ended up being a bit of a turning point,” said Jason Spezza. “We thought it was a goal. From where I saw it, it looks like a natural reaction that goes off his shoulder. They made the call and we’ve got to live with it.”

“You go to the net and try to get rewarded, and it’s a tough one to get called back. It would have been a (tie) hockey game,” said Neil, who said he felt the puck deflect off his shoulder, and not his hand as officials charged.

“I felt it and turned my shoulder in. I don’t know where it (went), whether it was caught up in my jersey. Obviously, I felt it should have counted, but that’s what they’ve got video review for and obviously they saw something that I didn’t feel.”

“I cannot believe that wasn’t a goal,” said Daniel Alfredsson. “In Winnipeg (Evander Kane) scored the exact same way and he didn’t use his hand to bat it in. It should have been a good goal.”

The Senators carried the play through a scoreless opening 20 minutes and owned the majority of the chances, but the save of the period went to Craig Anderson, who robbed Jeff Skinner with two minutes to go.

Skinner was already celebrating behind the net when he caught a good view of Anderson reaching around to smother the puck before it trickled over the goal line.

The play was briefly reviewed before it was ruled no goal.

Anderson wasn’t so lucky on the Hurricanes’ opening goal 1:33 into the second.

Brandon Sutter put his shot off the same spot on Anderson’s shoulder, and this time, the puck popped up and bounced into the back of the net before Anderson could recover.

“It’s frustrating, but hopefully all those bad bounces are out of our system,” said Anderson.

“(Ward) was outstanding. Obviously, he was a difference-maker and he’s a great goaltender, he’s done it many times. There’s a reason why he’s one of the elite in the league. It’s one of those things where, like playoff hockey, you’re going to have a guy that you have to go up against that’s going to have a good night, and we have to find a way to keep it even and give ourselves a chance to win.”

Spezza was the only Ottawa shooter to beat Ward cleanly. A rising snap shot 30 seconds into the second rang off the post, but Spezza made good on a late goal, his 33rd of the season, sweeping a loose puck past Ward to spoil the shutout bid with 12.4 seconds remaining.

Officiating was a sore point among the sellout Scotiabank Place crowd once again as boos rained down after Neil took his second straight interference penalty in the third.

Neil first hammered down Eric Staal at the side of the Ottawa net, and seconds after leaving the box, caught Ruutu in the trolley tracks as he exited the Carolina zone. Ruutu had possession of the puck when Neil lined him up.

“I feel they were clean hits,” said Neil. “The puck was there on both of them. If I don’t finish my check (on Staal), he’s got a good scoring chance. The Ruutu one I just stepped out of the box and he had his head down reaching for the puck and I stepped up on him. I’m not making the calls out there, I’ve got no control over it. It is what it is.”

aedan.helmer@sunmmedia.ca


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