GARRIOCH: Ottawa Senators end season on high note with win over Philadelphia Flyers

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PHILADELPHIA — The captain came through in the crunch.

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Brady Tkachuk scored the winner with his 30th of the season in the third period to lead the Senators to a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The final buzzer sounded on what’s been a difficult season, but Tkachuk’s goal on the power play with 2:22 left was the difference. Getting to 30 goals meant a lot for Tkachuk and you could see him in the smile on his face.

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Travis Hamonic, Josh Norris and Austin Watson also chipped in.

“To end the season with a win is a good feeling and you go into the summer with a win,” Tkachuk said. “What was most important is we left it all out there and we gave it our absolute all. We’re happy with the outcome and it left a good taste in our mouth.”

Tkachuk said he wanted to reach the 30-goal plateau, discussing it with Norris before the power play.

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“That was a goal. I wanted to prove to myself I could do that. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without my linemates and teammates,” said Tkachuk.

The Senators were coming off a terrible 4-0 loss to the Florida Panthers in the final home game Thursday and wanted to bounce back. They vowed to be better against the Flyers.

“It was nice to finish with a win, especially the way we did on the power play, it was fun to win one more time,” said coach DJ Smith. “(The year) is in the books, we’ll turn the page. We know it’s a big summer for us and we know next year there’s a lot bigger expectations.”

Goaltender Anton Forsberg, who came into this game with 21 wins, had stopped 81 of 89 shots and registered a .910 save percentage in his last 10 wins. The club was better in front of him, but he was solid when needed.

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A five-on-three for 54 seconds with eight minutes left in the third turned out to be costly as Philadelphia’s Owen Tippett tied it up 2-2 with a blast by Forsberg at 12:33.

The Senators and Flyers headed to the third period tied 1-1.

Hamonic broke the tie with his fourth of the season and his first since being acquired by the Senators at 1:56 of the final frame. It beat Martin Jones through the five-hole — and it’s one he’d definitely want back.

Ottawa had outshot Philly 24-17, but Jones kept his club in the game. It seemed only right that the final game of the season would go down to the final period to determine a winner between two teams heading home for the summer.

A steal by Tkachuk set up Norris for his 35th of the season at 11:51 of the second. He tied it up 1-1 when Tkachuk caused a turnover, threw it front and Norris beat Jones glove side on a one-timer.

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With that goal, Norris, 22, became the youngest Ottawa player in franchise history to reach the 35-goal plateau. Alexei Yashin completed the feat at 23 in 1997 and Marian Hossa was 24 in 2003.

While Philly thought it had pulled out to a 2-0 lead early in the second when Scott Laughton took out Forsberg going to the net, the officials went upstairs and it was ruled no goal by the situation room.

The Flyers opened the scoring with 1:29 left in what was a rather tame first period. That came on a power play with Mark Kastelic in the box when James van Riemsdyk scored a fancy one on Forsberg.

He pulled the puck between his legs beat Forsberg stick side to break the scoreless tie. The Senators had some chances on Jones, but he did make a good stop on Tkachuk and got help from defenseman Linus Hogberg, who made a point-blank stop on Norris on a power play.

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The Senators recalled winger Viktor Lodin their AHL affiliate in Belleville Friday morning and he made his debut against the Flyers. He has spent the season with Timra in the Swedish Elite League, but joined Belleville earlier this month and has played a key role in the playoff push.

“It was fun. I was a little nervous in the beginning,” said Lodin, who planned to call his dad after playing 10 minutes, 25 seconds

Norris was invited to play for Team USA at the IIHF world championship next month in Helsinki, but declined because of his status as a restricted free agent.

“I would love to go but just with my contract situation right now there’s a lot of unknowns,” Norris said Friday. “You don’t know what could happen over there and you don’t want to take any risks. I just want to make sure I’m in a good spot here.”

The Senators won’t waste any time heading their separate ways.

Exit meetings with GM Pierre Dorion and Smith will take place bright and early Saturday morning for those headed back to Belleville for the playoffs while the rest of the team will hold a dinner at night before hitting the road Sunday.

[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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