OTTAWA, Ontario (AP)Drake Batherson scored a tiebreaking goal midway through the second period and the Ottawa Senators defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Monday night.
Josh Norris also scored for the Senators, and Brady Tkachuk had two assists.
”Now we’re learning how to close games off when we would have let off the lead,” said Tkachuk.
”It’s just so much more fun to come to the rink when we’re winning, and I think everyone realizes that. And everybody comes to the rink every day wanting to win and I think that’s what makes it so much fun. And it’s great to see the progress we’ve had.”
Olli Juolevi scored for the Canucks, temporarily drawing Vancouver even with a long blast 14:07 into the first period.
Ottawa’s Marc Hogberg stopped 25 of 26 shots for his third win of the season. Braden Holtby had 25 saves for Vancouver.
The Senators were coming off a 4-2 loss to the Canucks on Saturday. Vancouver leads the nine-game season series 6-2.
Monday’s result is a tough one for the Canucks, who are still hoping to catch the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames in the battle for a post-season spot. Vancouver remains 10 points behind Montreal, which currently holds the fourth and final spot in the North Division.
Playing games against teams fighting for playoff positions is teaching the Senators how hard it is to win in the NHL, said Ottawa coach D.J. Smith.
”All the little things that go into it just to get two points, you can’t cheat,” he said. ”We’re learning that on the go here and it’s kind of a free lesson.”
The Senators took a 2-1 lead into the third Monday and refused to relent, allowing a single shot in the first 10 minutes of the period.
Vancouver pulled Holtby with 1:43 left but couldn’t score with the extra attacker.
The Canucks nearly drew even again in the dying seconds of the middle frame.
A shot by Bo Horvat on the power play got through Hogberg, but the netminder cleared the errant puck off the goal line with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
Batherson gave the Sens a one-goal lead 11:41 into the second, blasting a shot over Holtby’s stick from the top of the left circle for his 17th goal of the season.
The game was a tight matchup and Vancouver temporarily lost momentum in the second period, Canucks coach Travis Green said.
”It’s a fine line at this time of the year between winning and losing,” he said. ”I liked our first. I thought we made a couple mistakes that we’d like to have back.
”We talked to our team a lot about how every shift matters, especially with our team and at this time of the year. Every turnover, every puck battle matters.”
Juolevi tied the score at 1-1 midway through the first period. His shot from near the blue line sailed through traffic and hit the underside of the crossbar on its way in.
Norris opened the scoring 11:22 into the first following a sloppy Canucks turnover.
Tkachuk picked up the puck near the Sens blue line and streaked away for a 2-on-1, dishing the puck to Norris as they entered Vancouver territory. The rookie waited patiently for the perfect opportunity, then blasted a shot between Holtby’s body and blocker to give Ottawa an early 1-0 lead.
The goal was Norris’s 14th of the year. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) since April 1.
Ottawa briefly appeared to get on the board earlier in the opening frame.
Holtby came out to the top of the crease to make a stop on Thomas Chabot. Colin White collected the rebound and popped it into the net, but officials immediately waved off the goal, saying Chabot interfered with Holtby in the crease.
NOTES: Tkachuk leads the Senators in scoring with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists). . Both teams were 0 for 1 on the power play. . Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko picked up a lower-body injury in morning skate on Monday and is considered day to day. Arturs Silovs acted as backup for Holtby against the Sens.
The teams complete a two-game set on Wednesday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports