Philadelphia Flyers\' Daniel Briere attempts to check Ottawa Senators\' Antione Vermette (20) as he shoots the puck past Flyers\' goalie Martin Biron (43) during NHL hockey play in Ottawa, Tuesday February 19, 2008 . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators have registered their share of victories this season - but few have been as important as the one they earned Tuesday night.
Vermette had a goal in regulation and another in the shootout Tuesday night as the Senators defeated the struggling Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. The win allowed Ottawa to keep pace with the Montreal Canadiens, who were 6-5 winners in a shootout over the New York Rangers.
The Senators have been in first place in the conference since the first game of the season, but a pair of Montreal victories over the Flyers last weekend drew the Canadiens even with the struggling Senators.
"That was huge for us. The standings are tight right now, we all know that, but we battled hard and we found a way to win," said Vermette.
Jason Spezza scored the shootout winner while Chris Kelly had the other regulation goal for the Senators (35-20-5), who ended a three-game winless streak.
"I came down and was looking top glove and he took it away then I saw him open up the five-hole so it was nice to get," Spezza said of his shootout goal on Martin Biron.
The Senators have little time to reflect on the victory, facing a stretch of four games in six nights beginning Thursday against Columbus.
"Hopefully we can build on this game and go forward and get our game going," Vermette said.
Kimmo Timonen and Scottie Upshall scored for the Flyers (30-24-6) who are now winless in eight straight.
"Marty (Biron) was key and we need him to step up. It's been a tough time for our goalies, not that they're playing bad, but the wins are hard to come by," Flyers forward Daniel Briere said.
"We battled hard and that's a good thing. Right now we're desperate trying to find ways to win games. At least we were able to get a point and I know that's not the same as winning, but at least it's a step in the right direction."
Both goaltenders made big stops through regulation and into a wide-open overtime period. Biron made 33 saves for the Flyers but he only made one save in the shootout.
Ray Emery wasn't quite as busy in the Senators goal as he faced just 11 shots through the first two periods and 25 overall. He added two saves in the shootout.
Upshall scored the lone goal of the third period as he tipped Jim Dowd's point shot past Emery to tie the game 2-2 a little more than three minutes into the period.
Each team had a shorthanded goal to their credit after two periods, but an even-strength goal had the Senators up 2-1 heading into the third period.
Kelly opened the scoring on a breakaway less than three minutes into the game and that shorthanded goal gave the Senators a 1-0 lead.
In the second period Vermette doubled the Senators advantage when he tipped a shot for the sideboards past Biron in the Flyers goal.
Timonen redirected a pass from R.J. Umberger past Emery on the Flyers' 10th shot of the game, cutting the lead in half with less than a minute left in the period.
Notes: The Flyers acquired D Jaroslav Modry from the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry DraftClaude Giroux made his NHL debut for the Flyers in front of family and friends. Giroux, a member of the Gatineau Olympiques and leading scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, resides 15 minutes east of Ottawa with his familyJason Spezza played his 300th NHL game.