OTTAWA, Ontario — Mark Stone is peaking at the right time for the Ottawa Senators.
Stone scored his second goal of the game 2:43 into overtime to cap Ottawa's comeback from three goals down in a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night to preserve the Senators' playoff hopes.
It was Stone's sixth goal in five games. The 22-year-old is second in rookie scoring with 61 points, including 24 goals.
"I'm just thankful to be able to contribute at those times of the game," Stone said. "Everybody that's contributing on my goals are the guys that are making the plays. I'm just the one that's finishing it off."
Stone also scored in the third period, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman had the Senators' other goals. Andrew Hammond had 25 saves for Ottawa, which played its final home game of the season.
Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist had a goal and an assist each for the Penguins, and Beau Bennett scored for the first time in 31 games. Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 40 saves.
Pittsburgh, 3-8-2 in its last 13 games, could have clinched a playoff spot with a regulation win.
"We've got to wipe this one away," Crosby said. "We've got two games left to earn the right to play in the playoffs. It's up to us now, but we've got to forget this one pretty quick."
The Senators moved into a tie with Boston for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have a game in hand and the tiebreaker between the two teams with more regulation plus overtime wins. Ottawa trails Pittsburgh, which holds the first wild-card spot, by one point.
Stone pulled the Senators to 3-2 in the opening minute of the third period with his 23rd of the season. It extended his points streak to seven games (five goals, four assists).
Hammond was pulled for the extra attacker with just over 2 minutes remaining, and Ottawa took advantage as Hoffman tied it with 1:48 to go.
Ottawa outshot Pittsburgh 18-3 in the third period.
"We've got to find a way to keep battling to the end," Fleury said. "They were hungry for the win and they got it. It will take a little while to swallow this one."
The Penguins scored all their goals in the first period. Crosby opened the scoring on the opening faceoff as he took a pass from Hornqvist and easily beat Hammond just 10 seconds in.
Just over 5 minutes later the Penguins made it 2-0 on Bennett's goal. Hammond was knocked down leaving Bennett with a wide-open net.
Pittsburgh made it 3-0 on a lucky bounce at the 14-minute mark. Hammond made a big save on Crosby, but the puck went up and then bounced in.
Despite their early deficit, the Senators never felt a sense of panic.
"The confidence we've built up over this run kind of gives us the ability to fight through situations where it seems like our backs are against the wall," Hammond said. "We've had our backs against the wall this whole time as far as trying to make the playoffs. (Tuesday) doesn't necessarily change that, but we just keep proving that we can keep fighting with them there."
Ottawa finally got on the board with a short-handed goal with 5:19 remaining in the second as Pageau came down the ice and took a shot. His rebound went in off Derrick Pouliot.
"You need that first one to lift your emotion level up," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "We just wanted to get back in and get that first one to give ourselves an emotional lift."
NOTES: The Senators were without LW Matt Puempel (high ankle sprain) and LW Milan Michalek (headaches). D Jared Cowen and LW Colin Greening were healthy scratches. ... The Penguins were without D Kris Letang (concussion, day-to-day), D Christian Ehrhoff (upper body, day-to-day) and RW Steve Downie (upper body, day-to-day).
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.