OTTAWA (AP)—The Ottawa Senators finally held on to a third-period lead by adding to it.
Ray Emery made 28 saves for the Senators, who had blown three straight third-period leads over a 0-1-2 stretch, including allowing three goals 2:48 apart midway through the third period of Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Pittsburgh.
“Going into the third period, I think we were focused on making sure that we finished the game off properly,” said McAmmond, who had a short-handed goal in the second before scoring Ottawa’s fifth goal 3:04 into the third to increase the lead to 5-1.
Senators leading scorer Dany Heatley extended his points streak to 13 games with an assist on McAmmond’s second goal after Ottawa had built a 4-1 lead after two periods—the same margin it held two nights earlier.
“I told them to keep playing the way they had been,” coach Bryan Murray said. “The other night we didn’t try to shoot pucks in the way that we normally would and tonight they kept going and we got another goal, and that made all the difference.”
Tom Preissing scored Ottawa’s third power-play goal and Jason Spezza had two assists as he returned to the lineup after his 11-game points streak ended Tuesday when he was a last-minute scratch because of back pain.
The Senators are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 84 points, two ahead of the fifth-place Penguins.
Alex Steen scored in the second for Toronto, which remained tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 73 points.
The Maple Leafs, already tied with Carolina, squandered their game in hand on the Hurricanes and were joined in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot by the New York Rangers.
Toronto hosts Ottawa on Saturday.
“Since the All-Star break we knew that we were going to be in a dogfight right until the end to make the playoffs,” Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin said. “There are a lot of good teams just in front of us and just behind us and we can’t have too many games like we had tonight. It’s nice that we get a chance to show a better effort Saturday night at home.”
Fisher scored a pair of power-play goals in the first, including his 16th of the season 5:13 in after Toronto was called for too many men. He added his second goal—his 17th of the season—at 12:36 as Ottawa converted its first two opportunities with the man advantage.
Alfredsson assisted on both of Fisher’s goals before adding his third point of the game as McAmmond increased the Senators’ lead to 3-0 when he beat Andrew Raycroft for a short-handed goal 3:51 into the second.
Steen drew Toronto within 3-1 at 10:57 when he drove the net and put a shot over Emery’s left shoulder for his 14th of the season.
Preissing restored Ottawa’s three-goal lead at 16:48 with his sixth goal as the Senators scored their third power-play goal 21 seconds into their fourth opportunity to go up 4-1.
Prior to squandering Tuesday’s three-goal lead, Ottawa had also blown third-period leads in Atlanta and Chicago in its previous two games.
“It’s great that we put ourselves in that position again,” Alfredsson said. “We know we’ve been a really good team in the third.”
McAmmond ensured that the Senators’ dubious streak would end when he got his second of the game 3:04 into the third to make it a four-goal lead.
Raycroft is 2-4-1 against Ottawa this season. … Heatley has 10 goals and 10 assists over the course of his streak.