OTTAWA, Ontario (AP)Travis Hamonic and Tim Stutzle each scored twice and the Ottawa Senators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 Saturday night for their fifth straight win.
Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist, and Jake Sanderson and Mathieu Joseph each had two assists for the Senators. Cam Talbot finished with 19 saves to win for the fifth time in his last seven starts after losing four straight.
Ottawa pulled three points behind Pittsburgh – which lost 4-1 to Florida earlier – for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference.
Late in the third period fans at the Canadian Tire Centre started chanting “we want playoffs” – a new development for a fan base that hasn’t had a team anywhere near contention since 2017.
“It kind of gave me chills to be honest,” Stutzle said. “It was so loud and it was awesome. We’re playing great right now and hope to keep it going.”
Fans were also loud when Chychrun – acquired from Arizona on Wednesday – took his first shift, and late in the third he was shown on the big screen and raised his arm, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“That was fun,” Chychrun said. “I don’t know what made me do that, just spur of the moment, but the crowd got me going so that’s what it’s all about … just having fun. They were really into it tonight so it was a blast out there.”
Jack Roslovic and Patrik Laine scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost five of their last seven (2-3-2). Elvis Merzlikins started and gave up four goals on 23 shots before he was replaced early in the second period by newcomer Michael Hutchinson, who had 15 saves.
“We talked about it before the game, that they were going to come hard, and I have no clue how we were still surprised how hard they came, especially in the beginning,” Laine said. “And they kept coming at us the whole game. We were just sleeping, just sleeping for 60 minutes.”
Stutzle put the Senators up 2-1 midway through the first period, as he got a pass from Brady Tkachuk, skated in alone on Hutchinson and beat the goalie on the blocker side.
“It feels pretty good,” Stutzle said of reaching the 30-goal mark. “Especially in my first couple years I didn’t finish that well so it feels pretty good and right now I’m really confident in the way I play. But in the end the most important is to get as many wins as we can and it feels good If I can contribute to those wins.”
Hamonic got his second of the night and fifth of the season as he backhanded the rebound of Alex DeBrincat’s shot to give Ottawa a two-goal lead at 2:16 of the second period.
“Boys had some fun with it for sure,” said Hamonic, a defenseman not know for his offensive abilities. “It’s not every night you score a couple in a game, but I think the important part is that we won.”
Chychrun got his first with the Senators just 48 seconds later as he beat Hutchinson from the right circle to make it 4-1.
Laine pulled the Blue Jackets back within two with a power-play goal with 9:04 left in the middle period. It was his 19th.
Stutzle scored a short-handed goal for his 31st to restore Ottawa’s three-goal lead with 7:53 left in the third.
“We did a lot of really good things,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “I thought 5-on-5 we grinded, held on to the puck a lot longer. They played last night so they weren’t as sharp, but they worked right to the end.”
Blue Jackets: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday night to wrap up a two-game trip.
Senators: At Chicago on Monday night to open a five-game trip.
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