It was close, a lot closer than they wanted it to be.
But after an emotional day in Boston on Monday amid the bombs at the marathon, the Ottawa Senators dug down and found the spirit they needed to keep themselves on pace for an appearance in the playoffs.
They had to sweat the final few minutes as the Carolina Hurricanes came close.
But the Senators held on and their 3-2 win, before a sellout crowd of 19,181, kept them in sixth place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings with 50 points, one point ahead of the New York Islanders, who beat the Florida Panthers 5-2.
It was Ottawa’s 25th one-goal game of the season.
Next up on Thursday: the red-hot Washington Capitals, who embarrassed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1.
It wasn’t a game that left coach Paul MacLean with a smile on his face.
“We always feel confident about our team,” he said. “We just don’t always, unfortunately, like the way we execute and the way they play.
“And a lot of times, it’s not our team’s fault as much as it is the other team’s fault, because they’re actually playing hard and trying to win, too.
“I think that was the case against New Jersey and I think that was the case again here (Tuesday).
“They executed very well and they made it very difficult for us to execute, and we didn’t execute particularly well.
“They made it difficult for us to make plays and we didn’t. That’s something we’ve been working on all year.”
Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek, and Chris Neil scored for the Senators, who are now on a three-game winning streak.
They were helped by another outstanding performance from Craig Anderson, who stopped 32 of 34 shots for his 10th win.
Anderson was irked by the mental mistakes the Senators made in the final few minutes that allowed the Hurricanes to get close.
“We always have to make it interesting, I guess,” he said. “We had a two-goal lead with five minutes to go. We’ve got to make sure that we’re good with the puck. A turnover and a hook put them on a power play and then a penalty in the offensive zone put us down five-on-three.
“These are just mental mistakes that we have to make sure, that when there’s five minutes left and we’re up by two goals, we’ve got to bury teams and sometimes take a hit to make a play and turn the other cheek sometimes to make sure we finish the game strong.”