OTTAWA -- Playing their first home game since March 30, the Ottawa Senators kept alive their chances of starting the playoffs at Scotiabank Place.
They also kept the place buzzing with an entertaining 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night that saw the Senators get in a season-high five fights.
Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek and Chris Neil scored goals for Ottawa, which now has 50 points and a hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
To start the playoffs at home, where they are 14-3-3 this season, the Senators must pass Toronto (53 points) and catch Boston (56) or Montreal (57). The Senators and Canadiens have played 42 games, one more than the Bruins and one fewer than the Maple Leafs.
The Senators went 2-4 in a six-game stretch away from Scotiabank Place while the Women's World Hockey Championships were in Ottawa. Their road record on the season is 8-11-3.
Carolina's Justin Faulk and Eric Staal beat Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, who was playing his first home game since spraining his ankle Feb. 21 against the New York Rangers.
Anderson made 32 saves, including a spectacular effort to take the upper half of the net away from Joe Corvo in the second period that had fans chanting "Andy."
The loss left Carolina with a 17-23-2 record and still in the race for last place in the NHL standings.
Justin Peters stopped 31 of 34 shots in the Hurricanes net.
The Senators scored the lone goal of the first period when Zibanejad one-timed a set up from Cory Conacher. It was the seventh goal of the season for the rookie, who turns 20 on Thursday.
Michalek scored his second goal in his second game back from knee surgery, whipping a wrist shot past Peters high to the glove side at the six minute mark of the middle period.
Faulk narrowed the gap with his fourth, four minutes later. His wrist shot from the right wing circle squirted between Anderson's glove arm and his body.
Neil restored the two-goal lead before the second intermission, tipping in a feed from Guillaume Latendresse. The goal snapped a 31-game slump for Neil, who now has four on the season.
Staal's goal, on the power play, was a tip in off a cross-crease pass by Jiri Tlusty with 3:30 to play.
A hooking penalty call on Alexander Semin with 2:41 left hindered Carolina's chances of completing the comeback.
NOTES: Originally expected to miss the rest of the season after having hip surgery in November, Senators defenseman Jared Cowen returned to the lineup against the Hurricanes and made his presence felt early. At the 13:11 mark of the opening period, he flattened Jeff Skinner with an open-ice body check at the center ice line, and when Chad LaRose came to his fallen teammates defense, Cowen cut him under the left eye in a one-sided fight ... The Senators-Bruins game that was postponed Monday because of the bombs at the Boston Marathon will be made up April 28, the day after the regular season ends. The Senators have been informed by the NHL that should they make the playoffs, they won't have to start until the second night, May 1 .... The game featured the top shooting teams in the NHL. Entering the night, Carolina sat atop the category with an average of 32.8 shots per game, and Ottawa was second at 32.4 shots per game ... The Hurricanes appeared to go ahead at the 15:37 mark of the first period, but the puck was ruled to be kicked in by Tuomo Ruutu ... On his 27th birthday, Senators center Peter Regin sat in the press box as a healthy scratch for the eighth time this season and third game in a row. Other Ottawa scratches were Jim O'Brien, Mike Lundin, Matt Kassian and Andre Benoit ... Tim Wallace was the Hurricanes' healthy scratch.