By Murray Pam
OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-3. For the second night in a row, the Blackhawks failed to clinch a playoff spot. The loss puts the club in danger of losing playoff home-ice advantage to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs now hold two games in hand and trail the Blackhawks by only one point. The slumping Blackhawks have lost three of their past four games.
Senators forward Erik Condra opened the scoring on a shorthanded break. Cody Ceci and Milan Michalek helped vault them into a 3-0 lead.
Patrick Sharp put the Blackhawks on the board with the team's first goal in more than 91 minutes of play. Sharp was active, firing a game-high nine shots, but is worried that the club is starting to lose momentum.
"Everyone is tightening up down the stretch going into the playoffs," Sharp said. "Now is not the time to be sorry for ourselves. We have several games to get better."
[WATCH: Marian Hossa's highlight-reel goal]
Ex-Senator Marian Hossa pulled the Blackhawks to within one at 19:19 of the second period on a nifty deke, sliding the puck under an out-stretched Craig Anderson.
Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur added third period goals.
Brent Seabrook rounded out the Blackhawks scoring with a shorthanded goal.
Antti Raanta made 24 saves in the loss, while the former Blackhawk Anderson stopped 46 shots, upping his career record versus his ex-mates to 5-1-2.
It was a tough evening for Raanta. First, MacArthur landed on top of him in the crease. A few minutes later Raanta fell awkardly, seeming to favor his right leg. However, the young Finn recovered, remaining in the game.
It was also a rough night for the boards, as Senators forward Chris Neil launched himself into them attempting to avoid a Niklas Hjalmarsson hit. Both players stayed down for a bit, but neither left the game.
With Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane missing from the lineup, the league's highest-scoring team has gone from averaging 3.23 goals per game to a lowly two goals per game in the past five contests. It wasn't for the lack of trying on Friday. Chicago out-shot Ottawa, 24-4, in the second period.
Despite out-shooting the Senators, 49-29, captain Jonathan Toews wasn't happy with the Blackhawks team game.
"Sloppy turnovers, sloppy mistakes ... We need to get those plays out of our game," Toews said. "It's better now than two, three weeks from now."
Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger appeared in his 200th game. Meanwhile, 22 year-old Matt Carey made his NHL debut after signing as a college free agent March 20. Carey played 7:53 and was successful on the draw, winning seven of nine faceoffs.
Andrew Shaw received a major penalty for spearing and a game misconduct after an altercation with Senators forward Zack Smith late in the game.
Murray Pam freelances for The Hockey News and is a weekly columnist for Metro Ottawa.