Ryan, Stone lead Senators to 4-1 win over Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — After their worst stretch of the season, the Ottawa Senators are beginning to play some of their best hockey.
Magnus Paajarvi and Christian Wolanin also scored and Cody Ceci had two assists for Ottawa. The Senators have won four of five after an eight-game losing streak that dropped them into last place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re playing a very simple game, which I think is key for a young group,” Stone said. “I think we’re doing a good job. I think early in the season guys were a little flustered maybe. We’ve calmed down a lot and guys are getting in position to make a play.”
Anders Nilsson made 33 saves to improve to 4-1 in his last five starts after going 0-10-1 in his previous 11. The improvement of Nilsson and the defense has been the catalyst behind Ottawa’s recent surge.
The Senators allowed 37 goals during their eight-game skid, an average of nearly five goals per game. They’re allowing less than two goals per game over their last five contests.
“The whole team has been playing great in front of me,” Nilsson said. “We haven’t given up a lot of odd-man rushes, almost no breakaways, no two-on-ones. When the team plays this good as they are in front of me right now, it’s a lot easier to be a goalie.”
Ryan and Stone’s goals pushed the Senators’ lead to 3-0 and they held on from there to get their first regulation win in Raleigh since Dec. 2007.
“I give them credit, they got to their game right away and we never did,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It was an easy game for them.
“We were so bad I almost dressed and got out there. We didn’t want to play like we’re supposed to. I don’t know what I was watching. It was the first time I could say that all year.”
Paajarvi opened the scoring with just under five minutes remaining in a sleepy first period as he batted a rebound out of mid-air mid-air past Mrazek’s right pad.
The Senators’ 13-second flurry in the second changed the dynamic of the game.
After the Hurricanes repeatedly failed to clear the puck out of their own zone, Ryan sneaked all alone in front of the Carolina net and chipped in Ryan Dzingel’s pass to double Ottawa’s lead.
Before Ryan’s goal could even be announced, Stone took a draw won by Chris Tierney at the top of the left faceoff circle and snapped a wrist shot through traffic and over Mrazek’s left shot shoulder into the net.
“You get two goals that quickly, you force the other team to start to take chances,” Stone said. “We’ve played from behind. We understand how hard it is.”
The Hurricanes got on the board when Foegele intercepted Mark Borowiecki’s clearing attempt toward the corner and redirected the puck off Nilsson’s stick from a short angle, but Wolanin’s goal in the waning minutes of the period gave Ottawa a three-goal advantage heading into the final period.
That was more than enough, as Nilsson stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third to finish off the win.
NOTES: Nino Niederreiter made his Carolina debut after being acquired in a trade with Minnesota on Thursday. Niederreiter started at left wing and had four shots in 16:30 of ice time. … McElhinney (knee) did not dress for the Hurricanes. He is day-to-day. … Carolina was 16-0-2 in its last 18 home games against Ottawa, with the Senators’ only wins coming via shootout.. Borowiecki suffered a lower body injury in the second period and did not return to the game. There was no immediate update on his status..Stone’s goal gave him his fifth straight season with at least 50 points..The Senators hosted their annual “Dad’s Trip” where the fathers of the players join the team on the road.
Senators: At St. Louis on Saturday.
Hurricanes: At Edmonton on Sunday.