The Ottawa Senators fought back to beat bitter rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 as sparks flew and the Battle of Ontario got a little nasty on Tuesday.
Down 2-0 early in the opening period, the red-hot Senators tied the game on goals from Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.
Kyle Turris fired the winner early in the third to earn Ottawa their ninth win in 11 games and open a nine-point cushion on their provincial rivals in the Northeast division standings.
It's a big two points for us over a division rival, the Battle of Ontario for you guys but overall just agreat way to find a win, goaltender Craig Anderson told reporters.
It's a close enemy but overall it is one game, added Anderson, who was outstanding in the Ottawa net with Toronto outshooting the Senators 39-21.
After a few seasons of decline the Ontario clash has once again heated up with both the Senators and Maple Leafs flashing playoff potential.
Coming of a disastrous 2010-11 campaign, Ottawa was not expected to figure into this season's playoff picture.
But after a slow start they came into Tuesday's contest sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference, challenging the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins for top spot in the Northeast.
After missing the playoffs the last six seasons, the Maple Leafs had looked ready to end the drought but after three losses on the spin have slipped out of a post-season spot.
Both teams are a lot better than we have been in the last couple of years and the games mean a lot more, Spezza told reporters.
When there is a lot at stake, the games become more intense. It's great for the game, it's great for our rivalry.
You want to play in important games we felt like this was an important game for us tonight.
A rivalry born before the NHL came into existence, Toronto and Ottawa have been waging hockey war for more than a century.
As usual when the two teams meet, the game was an ill-tempered affair that featured plenty of bone-jarring hits and punch-ups.
The Senators ultimately won the bragging rights when Turris rifled a shot over James Reimer's outstretched glove just over a minute into the third period for what proved the game-winner.
Obviously a huge goal by Turris there to get up by one then we protected the lead really well, said Alfredsson.
We're all hockey players and 99 percent or more are good guys but when you're on the ice you're not supposed to be friends with anybody on the other team.