It’s an exciting time for the Ottawa Senators and their fans.
After a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night, the Senators (32-26-4) are three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (31-21-9) – who lost 4-1 to the Florida earlier in the night Panthers – for the last wildcard spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
“It kind of shook me to be honest,” said Tim Stutzle, who scored two goals. “It was so loud and great. We’re playing great right now and we hope to continue like this.”
It was also a warm welcome for Jakob Chychrun, who was acquired in a Wednesday swap from Arizona to solidify Ottawa’s blue line. The 24-year-old scored one goal and one assist on his home debut.
Fans were rowdy as Chychrun started his first shift and late into the third he was shown on the big screen raising his arm, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“That was fun,” Chychrun admitted. “I don’t know what made me do it, just spontaneously, but the crowd got me going, so I guess it’s just about having fun.
“They were really into it tonight, so it was a blast out there.”
Ottawa’s blue line led that night as Travis Hamonic also scored twice and Cam Talbot made 18 saves.
CLOCK | Hamonic scores twice at home against Columbus:
Hamonic isn’t exactly known for his offensive skills, but there was no denying his teammates’ delight in his success.
“Guys sure had fun with it,” Hamonic said. “You don’t score a couple of goals in a game every night, but I think the most important thing is that we won.”
The Blue Jackets lost 4-2 to the Seattle Kraken and never seemed to be able to match the Senators.
Jack Roslovic and Patrick Laine scored for Columbus (20-37-6). Elvis Merzlikins was drawn after allowing four goals on 23 shots. Michael Hutchinson stopped 17 shots with relief.
“We talked before the game about how hard they came and I have no idea why we were still surprised at how hard they came, especially in the beginning,” said Laine.
“And they kept coming at us throughout the game. We only slept, only slept 60 minutes.”
Ottawa is on a five-game winning streak, the first since March 2017, and was in control from start to finish that night.
“We’ve done a lot of really good things,” said Senators coach DJ Smith. “I thought five against five we ground and held the puck for a lot longer. They played last night so they weren’t that sharp but they worked to the end.”
The teams traded goals 18 seconds apart to open the first goal.
Hamonic defeated Merzlikins with a shot from the top of the faceoff circle, but Columbus equalized shortly after when Roslovic capitalized on a turnover down the gang and fired a wrister that defeated Talbot.
Timmy arranged for Jakob Chychrun to have his first #Sens-Point got in this case! 🚨#GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/CUeo1jh4TT
Ottawa took the lead from Stutzle at the end of the 30th season, scoring from close range.
“It feels pretty good,” Stutzle said of reaching the milestone. “Especially in my first few years I didn’t finish that well so it feels pretty good and right now I’m very confident about how I’m playing.
“But in the end, the most important thing is to get as many wins as possible and it feels good when I can contribute to those wins.”
Ottawa extended their lead to 4-2 in the second, overtaking Columbus 29-11.
Playing in his 780th career game, Hamonic scored his second goal of the night early in the second to record his first multi-goal game.
Chychrun then scored his first goal as a senator, taking a pass from Erik Brannstrom and fired a wrister past Merzlikins, ending his night.
Welcome to Ottawa, Jacob Chychrun (@j_chychrun7)!! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/AioWDqKE3c
Hutchinson, who was acquired by Vegas on Thursday, made his Blue Jackets debut.
Columbus managed to halve the lead with Laine’s power play goal midway through the period, but there was no denying they were outplayed.
“They knew they were coming,” said Columbus head coach Brad Larsen. “There was no secret. You look forward to playing now. They’re in a playoff chase.
“They’ve been playing a really good brand of hockey for a while.
Patty’s 19th goal of the season and Marchy’s 2nd assist 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/xOfsgm32DY
The Senators will play their next five away, beginning Tuesday in Chicago, while Columbus travels to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night to face the Penguins.