WINNIPEG – Ales Hemsky admitted he was feeling down after being traded to Ottawa from Edmonton last Wednesday.
But his mood picked up after he had three assists in the struggling Senators’ 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s weird,” said Hemsky, who’s in his 11th NHL season. “You spend your whole career in one place and then you kind of realize you’ve come to the end. It’s sad because I had a lot of great people there, even the locker-room was great and everybody treated me really well.
“I was sad, but in the end I was excited to come here and play those type of games and battle for the playoffs.”
It was Hemsky’s second game and first points with Ottawa since he was traded and slotted on to the Senators’ top line.
Milan Michalek scored the game’s first goal on the power play with an assist from Hemsky and centre Jason Spezza, who had three assists.
“He’s an extremely offensively talented player,” Spezza said of Hemsky. “I seem like I can read off him fairly easily. I’ve watched him play a lot. He’s really good with the puck, he’s got that short stick, protects it really well and is a good passer.”
Defencemen Jared Cowen and Eric Gryba and centres Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman also scored for Ottawa (28-25-11), which had lost two straight and four of its past five games heading into the match.
Craig Anderson stopped 46 shots for the Senators.
Spezza said the players aren’t satisfied splitting their four-game road trip with a win over Vancouver, losses to Edmonton and Calgary and then the victory in Winnipeg.
“It’s nice to get the win tonight and get two points and get moving in the right direction again, but no, we’re not happy with .500 out of this trip,” Spezza said. “We’re fighting for the playoffs. We needed more points than that.”
Ottawa was six points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference before the game.
Turris’s goal was his 21st of season, while it was Hoffman’s first career goal and assist. Michalek picked up two assists.
Jets centre Bryan Little earned his 20th goal of the season. Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Winnipeg (30-28-7).
Ondrej Pavelec started in goal for the Jets, but was replaced in the second period by Al Montoya after giving up five goals on 20 shots. Montoya stopped all 12 shots he faced.
The Jets have lost three straight, including overtime against the New York Islanders and in regulation versus Los Angeles.
Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice wasn’t hanging the loss on Pavelec.
“I know he didn’t have a chance on the first three (goals),” Maurice said. “The fourth is a play that’s going behind the net and it’s a laser. If he gets that one, it’s as much luck as it is positioning on that one.
“I’ve got no problem with him. I didn’t take him out to do anything other than calm the bench. He had seen enough.”
Winnipeg went into the game three points back of Dallas for the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference and one point behind Phoenix, which visits Washington Saturday night.
The Senators led 2-1 after the first period and 5-2 following the second. Each team scored a pair of power-play goals.
“Anytime you’re a team that’s going through what we’re going through at this point, when you have the lead, no lead is safe until the game is over,” Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said.
“I think that was the case with us tonight. I thought they came with a push…but at the end of the day I thought our goaltender held the fort for us really well.”
Michalek scored his 11th goal of the season at 9:54 of the opening period with a deflection off a Jets’ defender just 20 seconds after defenceman Zach Bogosian went to the penalty box for holding.
The goal was reviewed to see if the puck had fully crossed the line behind Pavelec.
Little got his stick on a rebound and sent a backhand shot over a stretched-out Anderson at 16:59 with Senators winger Chris Neil off for interference.
But the tie was short-lived as Cowen’s goal came 38 seconds later off a shot from the point.
Winnipeg had a two-man advantage for 70 seconds in the period, but couldn’t capitalize.
Gryba scored 2:03 into the second period during a play that had Jets defenceman Mark Stuart sliding into Pavelec, sending him rolling at the side of the net.
Winnipeg regrouped and Evander Kane won a faceoff and sent it back to Enstrom, who blasted a shot past Anderson at 4:15 while Ottawa’s Cowen was off for slashing.
Turris and then Hoffman scored to make it 5-2 and Pavelec went to the bench.
Byfuglien scored unassisted with a slapshot 2:13 into the third period for his 14th goal of the season.
He said the team has got move on from the loss.
“Couple of tough bounces,” Byfuglien said. “Pavs been doing everything to keep us in every game.”
Ottawa was 2 for 4 on the power play and the Jets were 2 for 7.
Winnipeg travels to Colorado for a game Monday and then hosts Vancouver on Wednesday. The Senators host Nashville on Monday.
Notes: The Jets are now 11-5-2 since head coach Paul Maurice took over on Jan. 12 … Jason Spezza now has 11 points (2G, 9A) over the last eight games.