Suddenly, the Ottawa Senators have developed a finishing kick.
The Senators, who up until Jan. 13 were last in the NHL in third-period scoring, have scored a league-leading nine third-period goals since.
That hasn't necessarily translated into victories, but it did put a scare into the host Pittsburgh Penguins before Ottawa fell 6-4 on Thursday night. The Senators will continue their trip Saturday when they play the Washington Capitals.
The Senators trailed Pittsburgh 5-1 through two periods before pulling within a goal in the third. They might have tied it if not for Alex Formenton being stopped on a penalty shot.
"That's exactly how we want to play," Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said. "Fast, physical, quick and don't give much room out there. We're really proud of the effort we put in. We wish we had five more minutes because we were confident we could have tied that game up and won it.
"We're going to have to (continue) to put that effort in night in and night out."
Last Saturday at Edmonton, the Senators scored five third-period goals to win 6-4.
"They're sticking together," Senators coach D.J. Smith said of his players.
Josh Norris scored twice in the third period against Pittsburgh to give him a career-high 18 goals this season.
"He's got a great shot, great speed so he can create space for himself," Tkachuk said. "We're definitely lucky to have him and I'm lucky to be able to play with him. He can score from anywhere."
The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin had an assist in Thursday's 4-3 loss at Boston, extending his point streak to six games. The 36-year-old led the league in both goals (27) and points (56) heading into play Friday.
"He comes to play every night, and we can always rely on him," Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz said of Ovechkin. "He goes out there and does everything he can to help us."
The Capitals allowed two Boston goals on three power-play chances, including Charlie McAvoy's winner with 45 seconds remaining.
"It was a tight game. It was physical. It was battle-heavy," Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. "But at the end of the day, it's tough we lose it in the last two minutes of the game."
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington and goaltender Vitek Vanecek stopped 29 shots.
The Capitals went 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
"The power play and the penalty kill, we talked about it coming in here, and into the game," Laviolette said. "They were top 10 in both, and it could have been the difference in the game. We need a little bit more."
The last time the Capitals and Senators met, T.J. Oshie delivered a hat trick in a 7-5 Washington victory on Oct. 25. But Oshie was placed on injured reserve Thursday with an upper-body injury and will be unavailable this weekend.
The Capitals will also be without defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who will be completing a two-game suspension for kneeing Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers on Tuesday.
In addition, Washington defenseman John Carlson and forward Conor Sheary have been in COVID-19 protocol, but Sheary participated in optional practice Friday.
--Field Level Media