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The Ottawa Senators did just enough to get by in their last game. The urgency for a playoff push should return Sunday when they play the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom they are battling for home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.
Ottawa (42-23-7) regained its one-point lead over Pittsburgh (40-21-10) for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a sluggish 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Mike Comrie had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who have taken at least one point from their last six games (3-0-3).
"I think this was huge," said Senators goaltender Martin Gerber, who made 28 saves for his sixth consecutive home win. "Every point is really valuable when you look at the standings. I think we did a much better job than in some of the previous games."
Comrie, acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes in January, has recorded consecutive multipoint games for the first time since Jan. 13-16, and has nine goals and nine assists in 31 games with the Senators.
"(Comrie) is really taking advantage of jumping on loose pucks," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "He's a sniper and we know he'll be good around the net and (Saturday) he was."
Leading scorer Dany Heatley had his 16-game point streak end Saturday. He has not gone without a point in back-to-back games since Feb. 3-7, immediately prior to the run that just ended.
Ottawa is 7-0-1 in its last eight games at Pittsburgh, with the lone loss a 2-1 overtime defeat Nov. 22, 2003. Captain and right wing Daniel Alfredsson, who did not play in that loss, has six goals and six assists in the seven wins.
Like the Senators, the Penguins are finding ways to win games and steal points when they do lose. Pittsburgh, which stretched its winning streak to four games Friday with a 6-3 victory over Montreal, is 7-1-1 in its last nine games.
Erik Christensen and Gary Roberts scored 40 seconds apart early in the third period, while Sidney Crosby scored his team's first goal, then sealed the victory with an empty-net tally with 1:05 left.
"They played desperate tonight. I thought the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game, we set the tone and did a good job," Crosby told the team's official Web site. "We gave them tons of opportunities, but we played well late. There will be lapses like that, but we have to learn from it. Every line stepped up and gave us some big goals."
Despite leading the league with 106 points, Crosby has struggled against the Senators in his brief career. The 19-year-old center has just two assists and a minus-5 rating in five games versus Ottawa, the only team he has played more than twice without scoring at least one goal.
The teams have split two games this season, with the Penguins winning a shootout 5-4 in the most recent meeting March 6 at Ottawa. Pittsburgh rallied from a three-goal, third-period deficit before Crosby scored the winning goal in the third round of the shootout.