Make it four in a row for the suddenly surging Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes held off the struggling Ottawa Senators on Sunday, surrendering a two-goal lead but winning 5-4 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
For the first time since October, the Canes (19-17-5) have won four straight games as they reached the halfway point of the season. They did it against a team that is 0-7-1 in its last eight games but showed some fight after falling behind 2-0 early in the game.
Justin Williams’ power-play goal at 7:34 of the third period handed the Canes a 5-4 lead after the Senators had tied the score 4-4 with two rapid-fire goals in a span of eight seconds in the final minute of the second period. Williams went to the front of the net and had the puck go off him and past goalie Anders Nilsson as Teuvo Teravainen unloaded a shot.
“We gave them a couple there at the end of the second, which is a real letdown, but the guys rallied, rallied,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think that shows a lot about the group and now we have to obviously keep moving forward.”
Justin Faulk had a power-play score for the Canes for the first goal of the game and Brock McGinn scored shorthanded as the Canes picked up three goals from special teams. Carolina also got two more scores from defensemen as Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton had second-period goals.
Goalie Petr Mrazek rebounded from the four-goal second period, with its bang-bang finish by the Senators, to improve his record to 8-8-2. Mrazek, who had 27 saves, faced 19 shots in the second period but just two in the third.
Brind’Amour wanted another strong start Sunday, and got it. Sebastian Aho drew a quick penalty on the Sens and the Canes promptly scored on the power play as Faulk bombed one in.
The Canes then were penalized, but McGinn steamed down the ice in the final seconds of the Sens’ power play was near to score shorthanded. Just 4:28 into the game, the Canes had a 2-0 lead.
“That was probably a curse because we never could get our game going,” Brind’Amour said.
The Senators (15-23-5) made a push early in the second, Matt Duchene scoring, but the Canes twice had two-goals leads in the period -- at 3-1 and then 4-2 -- after the goals from Slavin and Hamilton.
Slavin’s goal came off a quick shot from the left wing and Hamilton’s score was his third in as many games, giving the Canes a 4-2 lead. According to the NHL, Hamilton was the first Canes defenseman to score in three straight games since Anton Babchuk in February 2008.
But the Sens’ Rudolfs Balcers then scored his first NHL goal. That had the home crowd roaring.
Eight seconds later, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his first goal of the season after missing the first 42 games with an injury. It was 4-4.
After the two soft goals by Mrazek, Brind’Amour had a decision to make during the second intermission: stick with Mrazek in the third or make a change to Curtis McElhinney. Sens coach Guy Boucher had replaced goalie Marcus Hogberg with Nilsson after Slavin’s goal in the second.
“We had a good meeting and the guys just rallied and played the way we’re supposed to play,” Brind’Amour said. “That was a good third period.”
Brind’Amour stuck with Mrazek, and the Canes helped their goalie with some strong defensive work, killing off a McGinn slashing penalty that came with 5:15 left in regulation.
The Sens pulled Nilsson late for an extra attacker but the Canes wouldn’t allow a tying score, Aho won a draw in the Canes zone with five seconds left in regulation to finish it off.
Aho had a pair of assists and won 11 of 17 faceoffs. Teravainen, who had two assists, was named the game’s first star.