Senators 3, Hurricanes 2
The Ottawa Senators are getting healthy and they're getting nasty.
Craig Anderson made 32 saves as the Senators beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night for their third straight win.
Defenseman Jared Cowen was playing his first game since undergoing hip surgery in November that was expected to end his season. He finished the game with a little under 17 minutes of ice time and two fights.
''I was looking to get some bumps and feel a little more comfortable. It was a couple more bumps than I was expecting but it was good and it went well for me,'' said Cowen, who had played just three games this season, all with Binghamton of the AHL.
''I'm not complaining. I'm surprised that's the way it went down but I welcome it for sure. I think it's the first two-fight game I've had since junior, but I like it.''
Cowen knocked Carolina forward Jeff Skinner out of the game with a clean hit at center-ice 13 minutes into the first period. Cowen immediately fought Chad LaRose who came to the Skinner's defense and received 17 penalty minutes in the process.
Cowen then fought Kevin Westgarth in the second period after Westgarth drew an initial roughing penalty.
''If you mess with one of us you get all of us,'' said Westgarth. ''That's where we are right now and it's a really important thing for a hockey club and it's good to see.
''We would have liked to have beaten them down on the scoreboard too but unfortunately we weren't able to get it done.''
Milan Michalek was playing just his 16th game of the season and second since returning from a knee injury. He had a goal and a fight.
Mika Zibanejad, Cory Conacher and Chris Neil - who also fought - all added goals for Ottawa, allowing the Senators to remain alone in sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Justin Faulk and Eric Staal replied for the Hurricanes, who got 31 saves from Justin Peters. Staal also had an assist.
The Senators had Monday's game at Boston postponed after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. That forced Ottawa back home through tightened security measures. The game against the Bruins was rescheduled for April 28.
Ottawa had its best opportunities in the opening period and those chances came early. Kyle Turris and Conacher each had partial breakaways in the opening minutes of the game but were unable to convert.
Zibanejad got the Senators on the scoreboard first, converting a pass from Coacher with 2:38 remaining in the first period.
The Senators increased their lead at 6:00 of the second period on Michalek's snap shot that beat Peters on the far side.
''I'm just trying to get back in game shape. So far it's going good and hopefully it will keep going that way,'' said Michalek, who fought Marc-Andre Bergeron late in the game.
''I try not to think about it during the game and just try to play my game. If something happens it happens but I can't be cautious because that would probably be worse for me. I've been injured a lot and had some bad luck. Hopefully it's turning.''
The lead was back to one however, exactly 4 minutes later as Anderson got some, but not enough, of Faulk's shot from the slot.
After some pressure from the Hurricanes, the Senators broke out on a 2-on-1 that ended with Neil redirecting a pass from Guillaume Latendresse past Peters at the edge of the Carolina crease with 2:48 left in the second.
Staal scored a power-play goal with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third, but that was as close as the Hurricanes got.
''As always it's back to the drawing board after a win or a loss,'' Westgarth said. ''You have to get ready for that next game immediately and take what you can from mistakes that were made, learn from it and move on and be ready for that next opponent.''
NOTES: Senators C Peter Regin celebrated his 27th birthday. ... Ottawa C Kyle Turris remained one point shy of 100 for his career. ... Hurricanes D Joe Corvo is one point away from 300 in his career. ... Ottawa has a 7-5-1 record against the Southeast Division this season while the Hurricanes are 8-7-0 against the Northeast. ... Carolina and Ottawa began the day ranked 1-2 in the NHL in shots per game at 32.8 and 32.4, respectively.