Spezza scores winner as Senators top Blue Jackets

If Jason Spezza has been having a frustrating year, not getting as many points as he would like, he got the right goal at the right time on Tuesday night here in Columbus.

Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza (19) celebrates the game-winning goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. Ottawa won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mike Munden)

COLUMBUS — If Jason Spezza has been having a frustrating year, not getting as many points as he would like, he got the right goal at the right time on Tuesday night in Columbus.

Spezza broke a 2-2 tie with 4:58 to go, knocking in a rebound, to send the Senators home with an important 3-2 win. The goal was his 14th of the season.

The Senators lost a 2-0 lead on two goals from Stephane Da Costa, his first and second of the season (and the fifth and sixth of his NHL career).

It was his first multi-goal game in the NHL and matched his career high for points in a game (a goal and an assist in a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 1, 2011).

He’s had seven multi-goal games for the Binghamton Senators in the American Hockey League, including two hat tricks.
The Blue Jackets tied it up on two power-play goals, one from Cam Atkinson at 12:00 of the second (with Spezza off) and one from James Wisniewski at 7:16 of the third with Zack Smith off for hooking. Wisniewski used Matt Calvert as a screen to beat Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson with a rocket from above the right circle.

Anderson faced 36 shots for the Senators, while one-time Senator Curtis McElhinney, making his first start since Jan. 11, faced 28.

The Senators were all over the Blue Jackets to start the game, hoping to take advantage of a team that played Monday night in Raleigh, N.C., and then had about a one-hour, 45-minute flight home.

And it paid off when Calvert took a holding penalty at 6:52 and Da Costa got his first of this season. From a scrum of players group in front, Da Costa put a backhander past McElhinney on the stick side.

If only the Senators had kept playing like that. But they didn’t.

By the second half of the period, the Blue Jackets had regained some of the momentum and had several near misses, the scariest one coming from R.J. Umberger.

The Blue Jackets were given additional life in the final minutes of the period when Marc Methot (holding) and Eric Gryba (hooking) took back-to-back penalties, to the second period.

That helped the Blue Jackets get out of the period with more shots than the Senators, 13-11, even if they had nothing to show for it.
They had 53 seconds of power-play time carry over to the second but got blanked on those, too.

The Senators boosted their lead to 2-0 at 8:24 of the second when Da Costa outmuscled the bigger and heavier Jack Johnson to take a pass from Spezza and beat McElhinney.

Almost as quickly, though, they gave it away when Spezza was sent off for holding Nick Foligno and Atkinson buried a between-his-legs, behind-the-back pass from Calvert — just a lovely bit of work in front of the Ottawa net.

GAME FILE

WHY THEY WON
They got solid goaltending from Craig Anderson and big offensive nights from Jason Spezza (one goal, one assist) and Stephane Da Costa (two goals). They also hung tough after the Blue Jackets erased their 2-0 lead.

CHEERS
Stephane Da Costa: He drove hard to the net and was rewarded with two goals. Whether he’s the secondary scoring the Senators are looking is a question but a night like he had helps.

JEERS
Jack Johnson: Bigger and heavier, Johnson could have done more to stop Da Costa on Ottawa’s second goal. Instead, he made a soft play, allowed Da Costa to outmuscle him, and cost his team a goal.

ATTENDANCE REPORT
In 500 games at Nationwide Arena since they entered the NHL in 2000 (not counting Tuesday’s), the Blue Jackets have averaged 15,961 fans (7.98 million total, 88 per cent of arena capacity), with 152 full houses.

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