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Ottawa Senators right wing Claude Giroux (28) celebrates his goal on Detroit Red Wings goaltender Magnus Hellberg (45) with teammate Mathieu Joseph (21) during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Feb. 27.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

he Ottawa Senators have waited a long time to play a meaningful game and Monday night they rose to the challenge beating the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 in the front half of a back-to-back series.

The Senators were led by Claude Giroux, who had a goal and three assists, and captain Brady Tkachuk, who had just one goal, but led the way physically.

“He came to play,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith of Tkachuk. “He’s played a lot of games, a lot of minutes against everyone’s top defenders and he’s been good the whole year, but there’s been a couple games where he’s really elevated his game and this is one of them.

“Not just with the puck, but his physicality he was emotionally dialled right in.”

Jake Sanderson, Drake Batherson, Thomas Chabot and Tim Stutzle also scored for Ottawa, while Cam Talbot made 22 saves.

With the win the Senators (29-26-4) now trail the Red Wings (28-23-8) by two points making Tuesday’s rematch critical for both teams to stay within the pack of six teams all battling for position in the tight Eastern Conference wild-card race.

“Everyone’s fighting for their lives,” said Detroit’s Dylan Larkin. “We have teams that we’re playing against that are battling for the same spot that we are. It did (feel like a playoff game) on the ice.”

The Red Wings know in order to have a chance Tuesday night they’ll need to stay out of the penalty box. Ottawa was 2-for-6 with the man advantage, which helped put the game out of reach.

“Too many penalties,” said Detroit coach Derek Lalonde. “That team will lose to nobody in the league if you give them six power plays.

“The power plays just demoralized us. It drains the top guys. Now we start making tired mistakes, we have no rhythm. And all of those (penalties) were on the front end. We literally, with too many penalties, gave ourselves zero chance.”

Tyler Bertuzzi and David Perron scored for the Red Wings. Magnus Hellberg stopped 36 shots.

Detroit got the start it wanted taking an early lead when Bertuzzi was able to cut across the front of the net and slide a backhander past Talbot, but then took two late penalties and took four more in the second.

After going 0-for-2 with the man advantage in the first period, the Senators connected on the third with Sanderson scoring through traffic from the blue line to make it 1-1 early in the second. Detroit responded with its own power-play goal when Perron fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle.

Ottawa then scored three unanswered goals.

“Sometimes when the game is big you don’t let it be a big game, you just play hockey,” said Giroux. “You don’t overthink it and tonight I think we did that. We didn’t overthink the way we wanted to play, we had a game plan and we just followed it.”

Batherson tied the game midway through the period with his 12th power-play goal of the season. Giroux gave Ottawa the lead when he broke in alone, and while he fanned on the shot after being hooked by Gustav Lindstrom, it was enough to fool Hellberg and beat him five-hole.

Giroux then managed to send a cross-ice backhand pass to Tkachuk who went on to beat Hellberg farside to make it 4-2.

At the end of the period Tkachuk stood in front of the Red Wings’ bench and could be seen mouthing “Who wants it?”

“I needed to be at my best tonight,” said Tkachuk. “Like I said, these are huge games for our team and I just wanted to do whatever it takes to help the team win and whether that was by emotion or physicality or making the play at the right time, but everybody did that tonight.

“It wasn’t just me. Everybody put their heart on their sleeve and did it for the guy next to them.”

Stutzle was able to get on the scoresheet with his 27th goal of the season late in the third.


Magnus Hellberg has had quite the season. Last July the 31-year-old left the Red Wings as a free agent and signed with Seattle. He was placed on waivers during the pre-season and claimed by the Senators on Oct. 3. Just over a month later, after having made one appearance for Ottawa, was put back on waivers and claimed by Seattle. The Kraken then placed Hellberg back on waivers and he was claimed by Detroit where he’s now having a chance to play meaningful games.


Detroit’s Michael Rasmussen will be out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Lucas Raymond returned to the Red Wings lineup after missing eight games with a lower-body injury.


These two teams are back in action against each other Tuesday night. Monday’s game was a makeup for the contest that was cancelled on Dec. 23 due to a snowstorm.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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