CALGARY — Matt Murray made 27 saves in his first win of the season, 4-1 against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.
Murray’s last win was a 3-0 victory at the Vancouver Canucks on April 22, 2021. He started this season 0-6-0 with a 3.67 goals-against average and an .883 save percentage.
“I felt good today, but to be honest with you, I’ve felt good really all season long, [and] I’ve said that all along,” Murray said. “It felt really good to get the result tonight, though. I’ve been battling and not getting the results. Tonight feels good, for sure.”
Nick Paul scored twice, and Connor Brown had a goal and an assist for the Senators (10-18-2), who ended a three-game losing streak.
“This one feels good for sure,” Murray said. “I thought we were pretty dialed in all night, played good Sens hockey. They had their pushes for sure. They’re a good team. We weathered the storm and got the job done. That was probably one of the best games we’ve played all year, I would say.”
Matthew Tkachuk scored, and Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for the Flames (17-11-6), who have lost four in a row.
“It’s definitely not the way we want it to be right now,” Tkachuk said. “Thank God we had the start [to the season] we did, it will keep us kind of in it still. There’s no panic by any stretch, but we want to fix this and only have eight [games] left before All-Star [Weekend], so we’d love to get this figured out soon so we can go on a little bit of a roll before that All-Star break.”
Paul scored 1:43 into the first period on the first shot of the game to put Ottawa up 1-0. He shot under Markstrom’s right arm from the slot after Brett Ritchie turned over the puck inside Calgary’s zone.
He made it 2-0 at 16:37. Flames forward Mikael Backlund turned over the puck inside Calgary’s blue line, leading to Brown setting up Paul to score around Markstrom on a backhand.
“We try to hunt the puck, get it back, and try to create through that. We did a good job of that,” Brown said. “We did a good job of getting pucks back and making it tough on their [defensemen] to break out and turned it into some offensive chances, and we were able to capitalize.”
Paul’s goal came after Murray made a blocker save on Noah Hanifin in the high slot at 4:01, a glove save on Johnny Gaudreau at 6:00, and a left-pad save on Ritchie at 6:40.
In the second period, Murray made a save on Oliver Kylington at 9:39, after Gaudreau fed Kylington with a backdoor pass.
“He was awesome,” Paul said of Murray. “They had some pushes at times where he came up big, sliding across, making some great saves, keeping us in it. When he does that, it gives us energy. We want to play for him, and then it turns into us going into the offensive zone, us making plays, and one, two, three chances at the net. He was a big part of our win tonight. He made some really big saves and held us in it.”
Drake Batherson made it 3-0 with a sharp angle shot from the goal line at 19:03. He was named to his first NHL All-Star Game on Thursday.
Tkachuk cut the lead to 3-1 when he deflected Christopher Tanev‘s point shot over Murray’s shoulder 47 seconds into the third period, and Brown made it 4-1 at 4:52 when he scored five-hole on a breakaway.
“I don’t think there’s enough disappointment when they lose,” Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said. “There’s just not enough emotion in our game right now.
“There has to be a lot more guys able to handle adversity. That’s a big challenge for this group. It’s still so much of a process that it can be frustrating, but at the same time, we can dig in and play better.”
NOTES: Murray made his second start since being recalled from Belleville of the American Hockey League on Dec. 28. He lost 6-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1. … Calgary is 4-4-4 at home this season and played its first home game since Dec. 11, a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. … Senators defenseman Josh Brown played 14:18 in his first game since Nov. 22. He missed 13 games with a broken thumb. … Ottawa forward Scott Sabourin dislocated his right ring finger in a fight with Milan Lucic in the second period and did not return.