Sens win, clinch playoff spot

BRUCE GARRIOCH, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

On Fan Appreciation Night, the Senators delivered a return to the post-season in dramatic fashion.

With the Senators trailing by a goal Thursday and just one point short of booking a playoff spot, Erik Karlsson scored with eight seconds left. The Senators then won 4-3 in a shootout in front of 19,152 fans at Scotiabank Place.

Alexei Kovalev scored the shootout winner for the Senators’ sixth straight victory.

Centre Jason Spezza, with a tremendous three-point effort, also scored in the shootout to put the Hurricanes away.

“We’re excited,” said Spezza. “After you miss a year, I think you appreciate it more. We showed good resilience to come back”

Peter Regin had two points and Anton Volchenkov also scored for the Senators.

Goalie Brian Elliott was solid and made 28 stops.

After Spezza won a faceoff in the Carolina zone. Karlsson’s point shot beat Manny Legace with the clock ticking down.

“It was great to see it go in,” said Karlsson, who has two goals and six assists in his last four games. “It’s about the team right now. Everybody is starting to play good.

“We’re playing for each other and that’s important. It’s good to get the win. Now, we have to keep going.”

The Hurricanes were able to get a good bounce off Volchenkov on what looked like it might be the winner at 7:04 of the third. Brandon Sutter’s attempted pass to the front of the net deflected off Volchenkov and past Elliott.

Trailing 2-1 to start the third, Karlsson struck early. He took a pass from Regin at the top of the slot and fired a wrist shot past Legace on the glove side at 1:49.

For a team that’s out of the playoff race, the Hurricanes aren’t going quietly into the off-season. They’ve been one of the NHL’s hottest teams. And they gave the Senators all they could handle Thursday.

“I’m happy for the guys (making the playoffs),” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “They worked hard all year. It wasn’t easy. Carolina played well and it was nice to get that extra point as well.”

The Senators had a lot of loose pucks around the net, but were having a tough time getting anything past Legace through 40 minutes.

While Elliott made some good stops in the second, he was beaten by a Chad Larose wrist shot to the stick side at 15:30 to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead. That came after Eric Staal won a battle against Chris Phillips along the wall.

After great work by Spezza in the Carolina zone, he threw a pass into the slot to Volchenkov, who beat Legace with a bullet high to the glove side with only 12 seconds left in the first, giving Ottawa a 1-0 lead. Back after missing a game with an “upper-body injury,” it was Volchenkov’s fourth of the season.

“It was great to come back like we did,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose eight-game scoring streak came to an end. “We found a way. We had some bad breaks and Erik scored some great goals for us.

“We worked hard throughout the whole year and it’s obviously nice to clinch and go in (the playoffs).

“We’ve got a good feeling and we’re looking forward to the next week, and then the playoffs.”

The Senators start a three-game, six-day road trip Saturday against the New York Islanders at 2 p.m.


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