OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators didn’t find losing to the Nashville Predators all that hard to take Thursday night.
After all, they’d rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period to at least salvage a point. And besides, their 6-5 overtime loss gave them something else to worry about, like trying to explain the wild finish to the contest.
“That’s a tough game to sum up in 30 seconds. A lot happened,” said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, who forced overtime by scoring a short-handed goal with 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation time and netminder Pascal Leclaire on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.
A little more than 58 seconds earlier, Ryan Suter thought he’d won it for Nashville when he scored during a 5-on-3 power play, so Phillips’ goal brought the crowd of 18,970 at Scotiabank Place to their feet having watched the Senators come back to tie for the third time in the contest.
They were finally silenced when Shea Weber ended it with his second goal of the game as Nashville enjoyed another opportunity with the man advantage in overtime.
“Obviously not the start we wanted, but we battled back and lots happened in between there, a lot of goals scored,” Phillips said.
Weber, who also had an assist on the night, put a shot between the pads of Leclaire with Matt Carkner serving an interference penalty to end the Predators’ six-game winless slide.
“Definitely not a defensive battle. It was a lot of offence, but we got two points and we’re happy,” said Weber, who also had an assist.
Fellow blue-liner Suter also had two goals and an assist and J.P. Dumont scored once and set up four other goals for the Predators (3-5-1), who took a three-goal lead in the first period and appeared to be cruising until the final frame.
However, they allowed the Senators to tie the game at 3-3, then allowed leads at 4-3 and 5-4 to slip.
“We’ve had some of the craziest games here in this rink,” coach Barry Trotz said, recalling a 6-5 Nashville win in Ottawa in 2007-08. “They scored, we scored, the third period was like that.
“We had a 3-0 lead and we’re in good shape, then we took penalties. But give our guys a lot of credit because we’ve been a little bit fragile lately.
“You’re on the power play and they score a short-handed goal with 1.6 seconds left and you’re on a six-game losing streak, that plays with your mind.”
Rookie Cody Franson also scored for Nashville. It was the first career goal for Franson, who was playing in just his third NHL game.
Dave Scatchard, a veteran of 637 NHL games who was recalled Tuesday from Milwaukee of the AHL, recorded an assist, his first NHL point since Jan. 7, 2007.
Rookie Alexander Sulzer, also recalled Tuesday, recorded his first career point with an assist.
Pekka Rinne made 27 saves in goal to earn his first victory of the season.
Anton Volchenkov, with a goal and an assist, Chris Campoli, Nick Foligno and Milan Michalek also replied for Ottawa (5-2-1), which lost for the first time in three games.
Jason Spezza registered three assists, Daniel Alfredsson added two and Leclaire finished with 31 stops.
“I think we showed character in the way we fought back,” Alfredsson said. “It’s a little frustrating, but the way we found a way to get a point is very encouraging.”
The Senators had not played since beating Montreal on Saturday, but had won five of their previous six games and had taken advantage of a schedule that’s pitted them mostly against struggling teams so far.
The Predators were one of those teams.
Nashville, playing for the second time in as many nights after a 3-2 loss in Boston on Wednesday, won its first two games to start the season before dropping the next six, with goal scoring being a big problem.
The Predators had managed just 11 goals through their first seven contests and their power play came into the game last in the league at a 1-for-27 clip (3.7-per-cent success rate).
However, they got some help Thursday from some fortunate bounces.
Senators defenceman Alexandre Picard suffered through a nightmare of a game, unintentionally figuring in all three of the Predators’ first-period goals.
Suter was credited with giving Nashville the lead on its first shot on Leclaire.
Picard put his stick in front of Suter’s shot from the top of the faceoff circle and accidentally redirected it past his own goaltender little more than five minutes in.
The blue-liner’s bad luck continued three minutes after that when Franson’s point shot was stopped, only for the rebound to bounce from Leclaire’s pads into Picard in front of the net and back in to make it 2-0.
At the midway point of the period, Picard whiffed on a breakout pass at his own blue-line, allowing Joel Ward and Dumont to break in on a 2-on-1 chance with Dumont finishing off the play.
The Senators finally caught a break when coinciding penalties to Suter and Sullivan early in the third allowed Campoli to score during a 5-on-3 chance.
But then even the winning goal came on a shot that Weber didn’t get a complete hold of after Carkner was caught up ice and forced to take a penalty to prevent an odd-man rush in the extra period.
The Predators finished 2-for-6 on the power play; the Senators went 1-for-6.
“The penalties got them back in the game and the penalties got them out of the game, so I’m just relieved really,” Trotz said. “Tonight we needed our power play to be a contributing factor and we needed our so-called top guys to step up and give us some offence and they did.”
Notes: Right-winger Shean Donovan was a healthy scratch for the Senators, while defenceman Filip Kuba (lower body) and centre Jesse Winchester (knee) were out through injury. …Ottawa entertains the Boston Bruins on Saturday. …Centre Jason Arnott (upper body), right-winger Jordin Tootoo (groin) and defenceman Dan Hamhuis (upper body) all missed the game. … Franson’s goal marked the second night a member of the Predators has scored his first NHL goal. Centre Colin Wilson notched his first Wednesday against the Bruins. …Nashville travels to Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Saturday.