OTTAWA — Alex Kovalev and Jason
scored in a shootout to cap Ottawa's dramatic 4-3 victory over
the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night that ensured the Senators'
return to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Erik Karlsson scored his second goal
of the game with 7.7 seconds remaining in regulation to draw the
Senators even at three.

Spezza picked up his third assist of
the game on the play, winning a faceoff in the Hurricanes' zone and
drawing the puck back to Karlsson, whose drive from the point went in
off Manny Legace's glove.

The tie through regulation assured
Ottawa of at least one standings point, which clinched the playoff spot.
Ottawa failed to qualify last season, ending a streak of 11 straight
postseason appearances.

Brian Elliott made 28 saves, and Anton
also scored for Ottawa, which won its sixth in a row. Peter
had two assists for the Senators, fifth in the Eastern Conference
with 91 points.

Brandon Sutter scored his 21st goal
7:04 into the third to give Carolina a 3-2 lead. Sutter scored for the
second game in a row when his centering pass caromed past Brian Elliott
and into the net.

Jamie McBain and Chad LaRose scored in
the second, and Legace made 32 saves for Carolina.

Volchenkov put Ottawa up 1-0 with 11.9
seconds left in the first. The Russian defenseman stepped up to the
slot and one-timed Spezza's centering pass from behind the net past
Legace for his fourth goal.

McBain scored his third goal 5:44 into
the second to tie it at one. LaRose put Carolina up 2-1 with his eighth
goal at 15:30.

Karlsson drew Ottawa even at two when
he scored his first goal of the game 1:49 into the third.

Bobby Butler made his NHL debut for
Ottawa. Butler, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, signed with the Senators
as an undrafted college free agent Monday, two days after concluding his
NCAA career at New Hampshire.

Senators captain Daniel
ended an eight-game point streak in his 998th regular-season
game. Alfredsson, who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's
rookie-of-the-year in 1995-96, is Ottawa's career leader in games, goals
(375), assists (614), and points (989). … Butler had 29 goals and 53
points in 39 games for New Hampshire this season.