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CALGARY — Nick Paul scored twice in the first half and Matt Murray made 27 saves for his first win of the season as the Ottawa Senators beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Thursday.

The Senators played their first game since the New Year and only their second in 26 days, but they didn’t look rusty as they overtook Calgary 34-28 as they opened an abridged two-game road trip in Alberta.

Drake Batherson and Connor Brown also scored for Ottawa (10-18-2), which was delayed 11 games. Their 30 games played are the lowest in the league with the New York Islanders.

Matthew Tkachuk scored for Calgary (17-11-6), which has lost four games in a row and has fallen to 2-7-1 in the last 10.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 of 34 shots in the losing effort, falling to 12-8-5. Murray, who lost his first six starts of the season, won for the first time since April 22, 2021.

The Flames played on home ice for the first time since December 11 following postponements due to a COVID outbreak and capacity restrictions.

Despite the restrictions still in place, the actual attendance was well below half capacity with far more empty seats than fans.

The home crowd didn’t have much to cheer about either, as Paul scored the goal in under two minutes with the game’s first shot.

A defensive zone turnover along the side rails bounced the puck out to Alex Formenton, who set up Paul and his wrist shot went over Markstrom’s glove from 25 feet.

Later in the period, Formenton took the puck from Mikael Backlund inside his own blue line, and from there Connor Brown and Paul worked a give-and-go, with Paul finishing him clean at the 16:37 mark. The tally marked his third career game with two goals and first since December 30, 2019.

Paul played center between Formenton and Brown and the senators missed Tim Stutzle, who was included in the COVID protocol on Wednesday. Ottawa will also be without centers Shane Pinto and Colin White, both absent with shoulder injuries.

After 20 minutes the Senators were leading 2-0, in the second half the Senators beat the Flames 13-6 and scored the only goal in the last minute with a sharp angle snipe by Batherson.

From the goal line at the side of the net with a small opening over Markstrom’s shoulder as he hugged the post, Batherson sent a perfect shot under the bar for his 10th goal.

The Flames got on the scoreboard after 47 seconds after Tkachuk perfectly deflected Chris Tanev’s shot from the spot.

However, Brown dashed any comeback hopes and restored Ottawa’s three-goal lead on a breakaway at 4:52. He pounced on a faulty pass from Tkachuk behind the Senators’ net, sped away with a breakaway and hit Markstrom through the five-hole.

Notes: Defender Jacob Bernard-Docker, who hails from the nearby town of Okotoks, Alta, was activated by Taxi Squad and paired with Thomas Chabot. Among family members watching his ninth career game was Bernard-Docker’s parents, who were watching him live at an NHL game for the first time. … Scott Sabourin’s first game for Ottawa since November 14 lasted just over a period. He left the team with an injury after losing a one-sided fight against Milan Lucic.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 13, 2022.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

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