OTTAWA - A victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs might not seem that impressive these days, but for the Ottawa Senators it was extremely satisfying.
The Senators defeated the Leafs 5-3 Saturday night to extend its winning streak to six games, but more importantly are now just one point behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We just want to keep winning games," said Ottawa's Kyle Turris, who had his second straight two-goal game. "We're confident if we play well and just keep winning it puts a lot of pressure on Boston and Washington and hopefully we're able to catch them."
Turris' second-period goal held up as the game winner and he added an empty-net goal with 46.6 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson and Curtis Lazar also scored for the Senators (36-24-11). Andrew Hammond, making his sixth straight start, improved his record to 13-0-1 in his first 14 NHL starts as he made 22 saves.
Hammond's legend continues to grow with every victory and Saturday the 27-year-old was able to pick up an assist on Turris' empty-net goal.
"We've been playing well and I'm just trying to be a part of that," said Hammond. "I don't think the streak is something that's on my shoulders, I think it's kind of a team thing right now for us and right now we're fortunately getting rewarded for playing good hockey right now and that's something that doesn't always happen, but we're benefiting from it right now."
Joakim Lindstrom, Leo Komarov and Tim Erixon scored for the Leafs (27-40-6), who are on a five-game slide. James Reimer allowed three goals on 18 shots before being replaced by Jonathan Bernier, who gave up one goal on 22 shots.
This was the first of three meetings between the two teams over the next two weeks.
The win was costly for the Senators as they lost Milan Michalek late in the first period after taking a shot to the head and then Matt Puempel left in the second after blocking a shot. Puempel is expected to miss at least a week.
Down 2-0 to start the second, the Leafs were able to cut the lead in half as Lindstrom tipped Dion Phaneuf's point shot. Ottawa regained the two-goal lead less than a minute later as Lazar fired a high shot mid-stride to put an end to Reimer's night.
The Leafs took advantage of an Ottawa turnover and Komarov was able to beat Hammond stick side. Erixon fired a shot from the blue-line soon after to tie it 3-3.
The 24-year-old Erixon was thrilled to provide some offense, but felt there was little reason to celebrate.
"It's nice to put one in, but it doesn't really matter now as we wanted to win for (Eric) Brewer and for the guys here," said Erixon. "It's a little bit disappointing."
Ottawa managed to regain the lead in the final minute of the period as Turris, with his 20th, scored on the power play.
Senators' coach Dave Cameron was less than impressed with his team's performance in the second period, but said what mattered was the ability to find a way to win.
"A real good first and third period, second period had a bit of a nap, but we found a way," said Cameron. "Found a way in the third, real solid, so huge win."
The Senators got the start they wanted in the first, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Hoffman and Karlsson.
Ottawa opened the scoring at the 13-minute mark after Alex Chiasson found Hoffman in the slot to pick up his team-leading 25th. Three minutes later Karlsson beat Reimer glove side.
Notes— D Jared Cowen and C Colin Greening were healthy scratches. LW Clarke MacArthur skated with the team for the first time since suffering a concussion Feb. 16. Toronto D Eric Brewer played his 1,000th NHL game. C Peter Holland remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.