OTTAWA – Winning one game wasn’t a problem for the Ottawa Senators. Taking two in a row already seemed like a heady accomplishment.
But three straight wins have the Sens wondering just how far the wave will take them.
Clarke MacArthur scored the winning goal midway through the third period as the Senators beat the visiting Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on Thursday.
Until Monday, when they beat the Washington Capitals 3-1, Ottawa hadn’t even won back-to-back games in more than seven weeks.
“I feel like finally getting that second (win) and finally getting momentum was huge for us,” said Mika Zibanejad, who had a goal and an assist.
“We need to keep playing well and finding a way to win, and not just one game. We’ve been talking about it and talking about it and it won’t change until we do it. We’ve been working hard and maybe some games we should have won but I think it pays off now and we have to keep it going.”
Kyle Turris intercepted a clearing pass inside the Winnipeg zone and fed MacArthur, who then scored as he outwaited Winnipeg netminder Al Montoya before going top shelf to give the Senators a 4-2 lead.
“It was nice to get rewarded at the end, but as far as the game goes, that was an important two points for us,” MacArthur said.
“We’ve got something rolling now with three in a row and they’re not all going to be pretty but at this time of the year and where the standings are we’ll take anything we can get. When it’s 4-2 you want to keep it there but you just can’t write the script.”
Milan Michalek and Zack Smith also scored for the Senators (18-18-7), who have four wins in their past five games.
Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane and Olli Jokinen scored for the Jets (19-19-5) while Montoya made 25 saves.
Seconds after Smith gave the Senators a 3-2 lead on a deflection off a Marc Methot point shot at 6:42 of the third period, Craig Anderson maintained it with a glove save off Mark Scheifele who was alone in the slot to collect a rebound.
Anderson can include that among his 32 saves in the game, but he would also be the first to give thanks to his goalposts who were there to bail him out three times, including once earlier in the third period when the game was still tied.
“We didn’t pressure, we didn’t spend as much time as we wanted to in the other team’s zone, but we had three posts that could have gone in. That’s the way it goes sometimes,” Kane said.
After MacArthur gave the Senators a 4-2 lead, Jokinen made the home crowd nervous by pulling the Jets to within a goal with a little more than five minutes to play.
“I thought in the first period we played sideways in our zone but I thought in the second we were much better and played with more speed,” Jets coach Claude Noel said.
“In the third we had good chances to win and I thought we played a fairly decent game although it wasn’t one of our better ones.”
The Jets entered the third period tied 2-2 thanks in part to the fact that they had help on both their goals from their opposition.
Kane tied the game in the second minute of the second period from behind the net after he banked a shot off the back of Anderson and in. Seconds earlier Anderson had made a save on streaking Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba but was unable to get back into position in time to prevent the goal.
Byfuglien scored the Jets’ first goal and that one tied the game 1-1 at 15:37 of the first when his shot was redirected past Anderson by Senators defenceman Joe Corvo.
Slightly more than two minutes before that goal, Zibanejad had opened the scoring when he picked up a rebound off a Corvo shot and beat Montoya. Conacher actually got to the loose puck before Zibanejad but was only able to push the puck forward slightly.
Both Zibanejad and Conacher were in on the go-ahead goal by Michalek in the final minute of the first period. Conacher sent a pass to Zibanejad who took a shot from the right faceoff circle. Montoya made a pad save but the puck went right to Michalek in the slot and then to the back of the net.
NOTES: Scratches for the Senators were defencemen Eric Gryba and Patrick Wiercioch along with forward Chris Neil. For the Jets, defenceman Adam Pardy and forward Eric O’Dell were the scratches. … Anderson posted a 6-1-2 record in December with a 2.60 goals-against-average and a 9.21 save percentage. His 68 wins are four behind Ron Tugnutt for second all-time with the Senators. … Ottawa captain Jason Spezza missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury. … Heading into Thursday’s game, Byfuglien led all NHL defencemen in shots on goal with 140…. Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd is tied for the NHL lead with six shootout goals this season.