In a game in which both teams badly needed a win to stay in the playoff picture, Jason Spezza did what captains do.
Spezza scored a power-play goal with 5 minutes left and Stephane Da Costa had the other two goals to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
“It was a tie game and we got a faceoff play and then a little bit of puck luck in front of the net,” Spezza said. “Johnny on the spot.”
After Nathan Horton went off for tripping at 13:08, the Senators took advantage late in the power play.
Colin Greening’s pass through the crease was deflected by Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin, with Spezza closest to the loose puck. His first shot was blocked by Tyutin, but he took another whack at it and got it past goaltender Curtis McElhinney for the tiebreaker.
Spezza, named captain in September, is having a solid if unspectacular season. He also picked up his 23rd assist to go with his 14th goal. But he came into the game with a minus-21 plus/minus rating.
“No doubt I’ve had much better years in the past,” he said. “But there’s a lot of hockey left, and I have a lot to give.”
Craig Anderson had 34 saves for the Senators, who had lost two in a row and four of five but picked up a critical win against another team they’re battling for contention in the Eastern Conference.
“You’ve just got to be patient,” Anderson said while improving to 17-10-7 on the year. “That’s the key to any position, especially goalie. You start chasing [the puck], they can make you look silly or foolish. Patience is a virtue.”
Down a goal headed into the third period, the Blue Jackets tied it on a power play.
Anderson turned away one hard shot by James Wisniewski from the top of the right circle, but moments later the Columbus defenseman got another chance and this time he found the net. Matt Calvert helped set it up with a screen that completely blocked Anderson’s vision. The goal was Wisniewski’s fifth of the year and came at the 7:16 mark.
But that just set up Spezza’s big goal.
The Blue Jackets, playing their third game in four nights and second of a back-to-back, looked tired and sluggish most of the evening.
“It took a long time [to get everyone skating] and some guys still aren’t going,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “To me, that’s it right there. We’re a good team when we have 18 skaters going and we were missing too many tonight.”