OTTAWA – Jason Spezza’s face showed a mix of jubilation and relief as the Ottawa Senators picked up their first win of the season with a 4-3 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
Spezza scored the shootout winner and admitted it was a great feeling to finally pick up a win.
“Working hard to get our first win feels good, especially in front of our crowd,” he said.
Nick Foligno, Chris Neil and Colin Greening scored for the Senators (1-2-0) in regulation while Daniel Alfredsson clinched the victory in the shootout and goaltender Craig Anderson stopped 24 shots.
The Senators have played just three games, but already there was a sense of urgency to pick up the first victory.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean called his first win behind the Ottawa bench a Picasso.
“It feels pretty good,” said MacLean. “We did it right all night and got rewarded at the end.”
Greening tied the game on the power play 8:22 into the third to force extra time after digging the puck out from his feet and getting a quick wrist shot past Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom.
The goal had special meaning for Greening as his parents were in town from St. John’s, N.L., for the game
“Maybe I scored it for them,” he said. “It meant a lot (to score) because everyone realizes that this year is kind of a big year for us because they want to see all these new faces and so it’s nice to get a win for them.”
Kyle Brodziak, Devin Setoguchi and Nick Johnson scored for the Wild (1-2-0), while Backstrom made 41 saves.
“I think we can be better than that,” said Backstrom.
For the third straight game the Senators found themselves trailing early as Brodziak gave the Wild a 1-0 lead before the halfway mark of the first period.
Setoguchi made it 2-0 for Minnesota on a power-play goal with less than one minute remaining in the first period. Dany Heatley, who was booed all night, picked up an assist on the goal. It was Heatley’s second game back in Ottawa since asking to be traded in the summer of 2009.
“It was pretty much what I expected it to be,” said Heatley of the crowd reaction.
As for the game itself Heatley felt the Wild need to be able to play better late in a game. “We had a two-goal lead in the third period and I think we need to hold on to that.”
Both teams looked flat to start the second as the Senators failed to register a single shot on the power play, but Ottawa found some energy by the half-way mark and outshot the Wild 13–2.
Through the Senators’ first three games they have been outscored 10-1 through the first two periods and realize improvements are needed on the early parts of their game.
“For us it’s a process and we have to keep getting better,” said Senators captain Alfredsson. “It’s nice to be able to come back like we did (Tuesday.) It’s good for confidence. It would have been tough (to lose) as we were the better team throughout the game.”
Foligno picked up his first of the season as he dug the puck from out front and knocked it in to make it 2-1. Peter Regin, playing his first regular season game since last February, picked up an assist.
The trio of Foligno, Regin and Neil was easily one of the Senators’ best and many will look at Neil’s hit on Clayton Stoner in the second as the turning point.
“We’ve been having a flat second period the first two games and obviously a big hit or a fight can be a momentum change,” said Neil. “After that we generated some opportunities and got under their skin.”
Johnson made it 3-1 minutes into the third. David Rundblad, playing his first NHL game, did his best to stop the puck from crossing the line, but the replay showed it had already fully crossed the goal-line.
The Senators made it 3-2 on a goal by Neil that was initially waved off, but was then allowed after a review.
Notes: The Senators were without C Jesse Winchester (shoulder, day-to-day) and D Matt Carkner (knee, 4 weeks). RW Bobby Butler, LW Nikita Filatov and D Brian Lee were a healthy scratch.…Minnesota was without C Cody Almond (back, indefinite) and D Mike Lundin (back, indefinite). RW Brad Staubitz, D Justin Falk and C Pierre-Marc Bouchard were all a healthy scratch. … Members of the inaugural Ottawa team were on hand including Laurie Boschman, the Senators’ first team captain.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated Daniel Alfredsson scored the winning goal in the shootout. Jason Spezza scored the game-winning goal, while Alfredsson’s goal clinched the win.