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Blues hand Senators third consecutive loss

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OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators had a difficult time making good on their scoring chances and it proved to be costly.

Jordan Kyrou had one goal and two assists, Joel Hofer made 37 saves and the St. Louis Blues earned a 5-2 victory over the Senators on Thursday. Ottawa made it a 3-2 game early in the third period but failed to get any closer as the Blues scored twice to take two crucial points.

“I think he was the difference in the hockey game,” Ottawa interim head coach Jacques Martin said of Hofer. “There’s no doubt when you look at the number of chances we had. I think it was 22-12 in our favour.”

Hofer was outstanding in the first period making a behind-the-back save on Jakob Chychrun and another big save on Brady Tkachuk. The 23-year-old netminder admitted he exchanged a few words with Tkachuk that probably didn’t sit well with the Ottawa captain.

“I love playing the game,” admitted Hofer. “So, these are obviously fun games and especially games where you get a lot of shots and a lot of high chances it’s always fun making, you know, big saves for the team."

The Blues also made the most of their chances offensively.

Jake Neighbours, with two goals, Brandon Saad and Colton Parayko also contributed to the scoring.

The victory helped St. Louis (37-30-3) inch closer to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues moved ahead of Minnesota by one point and now sit only two points behind reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas, who hold the second and final wild-card spot.

“Every game for us is important right now,” said Saad. “For us it’s just focusing on one night at a time and any time we can win and kind of gain points it gives us a good feeling in here and it’s been fun as of late.”

Mark Kastelic and Dominik Kubalik scored for Ottawa (28-36-4), which dropped its third in a row. Anton Forsberg stopped 22 shots.

The Senators have now given up 18 goals across their losing streak.

“I thought that we played very hard, you know, competed,” said Kubalik. “We had some really, really good chances. It just didn’t go in for us, but I’m pretty sure if we’re going to play like that it’s going to turn around.”

Trailing 3-1 to start the third, Kubalik trimmed the deficit with a power-play goal 1:58 into the period. He backhanded a Shane Pinto rebound past Hofer.

Kyrou restored the Blues' two-goal edge when he took a pass in front, spun and roofed it for his third point of the night at 5:43.

Neighbours added an empty-net goal with 1:28 left in the third period.

“The one in the third was big I thought,” said Blues interim coach Drew Bannister. “To be able to come back after that power-play goal.

"They come back a couple minutes later and score and that was a big response from our group to kind of settle things down on the bench.”

Kastelic got Ottawa on the board at 4:34 of the second period. Mathieu Joseph made a great cross-ice pass to Kastelic who made no mistake getting it past Hofer.

St. Louis regained its two-goal lead at 13:11 when Neighbours scored after winning the battle for a loose puck deep in the slot.

Ottawa’s best chances to take control of the game came in the first period, but it was the Blues who held a 2-0 edge after 20 minutes.

Saad opened the scoring at 11:54 of the first period. He found of the back of the net after grabbing a Kyrou rebound in close.

Just over three minutes later, Parayko beat Forsberg glove side for his 10th of the season.

NOTES

Senators defenceman Travis Hamonic returned to the lineup after missing the last 10 games with a lower-body injury.

St. Louis centre Zach Dean made his NHL debut Thursday, replacing the injured Oskar Sundqvist. Dean played his junior hockey for the Gatineau Olympiques and was a first-round pick (30th overall) of the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2021 draft.

UP NEXT

Ottawa heads to New Jersey to take on the Devils on Saturday.

St. Louis takes on the Wild in Minnesota on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024.