OTTAWA (AP)—The Ottawa Senators are moving into position to defend their Eastern Conference title.
Daniel Alfredsson and Josh Langfeld also scored to help the Senators move within a point of Toronto for the conference lead. Ottawa, which finished first overall last season, improved to 13-2-4 in its last 19 games.
“There are a lot of positives right now, but we have to keep winning,” Alfredsson said. “Philadelphia is getting back on track and Toronto keeps winning even though they have a lot of guys out. They’re pushing us and we’re pushing them so it should be a great race.”
“They worked hard and they battled back, so they deserve a lot of credit,” Schaefer said.
Kostopoulos hit the left post with a shot in the final seconds after Tarnstrom’s power-play goal drew the Penguins within one with 2:22 remaining.
“I never thought it was close, but then you hear it—it was a pretty good cling,” Alfredsson said. “It was a good relief because I thought we definitely were the better team out there and we deserved to win.”
Pittsburgh, which has allowed a league-high 178 goals and is last in the NHL with 30 points, has just three wins in its last 19 games (3-14-1-1).
“It’s really frustrating,” Kostopoulos said. “They’re one of the best teams in the league and I thought our team played well. We didn’t give up at all. Down by three going into the third, we got two big goals and then almost got a third.”
The Penguins, who won and tied their two previous games against Ottawa this season, were 3-for-6 with the man advantage.
“We battled hard and what you saw tonight is the way we play,” Penguins coach Ed Olczyk said. “We put our necks on the line and we play with a lot of moxie. People don’t respect us too much—I’m not saying the Senators, I’m just saying the public and the media in general. I mean, we’ve played these guys pretty tough in three games.”
Ottawa, which went 2-for-10 on the power play, scored on six of 23 shots against rookie Marc-Andre Fleury, who was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the third period. Fleury was making his second start since returning from a stint with the Canadian national junior team.
“I thought he was really good early, and then I thought we didn’t give him much of an opportunity late in the first period when we gave them two power plays,” Olczyk said. “The last couple of goals in the second period I didn’t think he was very sharp on. I think right now he’s just in between and we’ve got to help him find it.”
Hossa, Alfredsson and Senators defenseman Wade Redden were added to the Eastern Conference roster for the All-Star game in St. Paul, Minn., on Feb. 8.
“I think it shows that we had a great first half, and a lot of our guys had good individual halves as well,” Alfredsson said.
Pittsburgh, which has lost 13-time All-Star Mario Lemieux for the season to a hip injury, had no players added, leaving the Penguins without an All-Star representative for just the second time in franchise history, and first time in25 years.
The Penguins also had no representative in 1979, when the NHL suspended its usual All-Star format to play a “Challenge Cup” series against the Soviet Union. … Pittsburgh also scored five times on Dec. 13 in a 5-3 win over Columbus. … Aubin stopped all eight shots he faced. … It was Schaefer’s 300th career regular-season game. … Ottawa has scored six or more goals sixtimes this season, including a season-high 7-1 win in Toronto on Jan. 8.