OTTAWA (AP) - Although the Ottawa Senators have already clinched a playoff spot, they were still looking to improve their position. Now, they can't finish any better than seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu scored and Cam Ward made 38 saves to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Senators 2-1 Tuesday night.
Ottawa still needs one point in its final two games to secure seventh place and set up a first-round playoff meeting with the Boston Bruins.
"Most of the games when you're playing from behind the results are not going to be what you like," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "They were obviously more competitive than we were and I think we got what we deserved."
Jason Spezza scored with 13 seconds left in the third period to spoil Ward's shutout bid.
Sutter opened the scoring early in the second when his shot from the left side found its way into the net at 1:33 after Senators goalie Craig Anderson - who finished with 29 saves - got a piece of the puck but not quite enough.
Ruutu made it 2-0 when he redirected Jussi Jokinen's point shot from the slot past Anderson with 2:06 to go in the period with the Hurricanes on the power play.
"They do a really good job of forechecking hard, the D really pinch and we couldn't really make plays quick enough to generate a lot of chances," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said after his team went 0 for 5 on the power play. "It was still a close game and if the power play had been a little bit sharper it could have won the game for us."
Carolina had a chance to score midway through the period when Jeff Skinner only needed to tuck the puck into a deserted net after Anderson was beaten on the play. However, defenseman Erik Karlsson stopped the puck off the goal line and cleared it away.
During the same sequence, Chris Neil appeared to score for the Senators but the goal was waved off after a lengthy review.
MacLean received no explanation from the officials and was unsure as to why the goal was disallowed, especially since a very similar goal against Ottawa was allowed during a game in Winnipeg on March 26.
"I don't get those explanations," MacLean said. "They don't seem to take the time to come and talk to us on the bench about them, but the Evander Kane goal in Winnipeg seemed to be eerily similar and it was allowed and this was wasn't. I'm not sure why they're different."
The Hurricanes, long out of playoff contention, were coming off a 5-0 loss at home to New Jersey and wanted to right the ship before it was too late to end the season on a positive note.
"It's important to finish the season strong even though we're out of the playoffs," said Ward. "Guys are still out there sacrificing and sticking up for one another. At times, it was chippy out there and the guys came up with some big blocks."
NOTES: Hurricanes D Jay Harrison played in his 200th NHL game... Justin Faulk is third among Hurricanes defensemen in scoring, but came into the game first among NHL rookie blue-liners with 22:55 in average ice time, eight goals and five power-play goals. ... Bobby Butler, Zenon Konopka, Sergei Gonchar and Ben Bishop were scratches for the Senators on Tuesday. Jaroslav Spacek and Andreas Nool were scratches for the Hurricanes.