OTTAWA – A closed-door, players-only meeting following an embarrassing loss Tuesday night seems to have worked for the Ottawa Senators.
Milan Michalek had two goals and an assist and Craig Anderson made 35 saves as the Senators earned a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
It was Ottawa’s second win of the season and the first time the Sens (2-5-0) made a lead stick.
“There was a lot of talk that went on after the last game and guys wanted to make sure we backed it up and responded and we did that,”said Jason Spezza, who scored the eventual winner in the second period.
The line of Michalek, Spezza and Colin Greening finished the night with eight points and was undoubtedly Ottawa’s best. Daniel Alfredsson scored in the third period for the Sens.
“As a line they carried the bulk of the offence and they were a good line,”said Senators coach Paul MacLean.
Dustin Byfuglien scored the lone goal for the Jets (1-4-1) who were playing their third game in four nights. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 26 shots.
The win should go a long way in helping the Senators develop some much-needed confidence after losing 7-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday.
“I’m proud of the way the guys played and we’ll have a good day (tomorrow) and move on,”said Spezza.
Ottawa got off to a strong start with a four-minute power play after Alexander Burmistrov was given a double minor for high-sticking.
The Sens had a couple of good chances, but Pavelec was solid.
The Jets, playing in Ottawa for the first time since November 1995, took a 1-0 lead late in the first period as Byfuglien drilled a shot from the blue-line that cleared traffic and got past Anderson.
“We got on to a good jump, but they seemed to turn it around,”said Byfuglien.
The Senators have now been outscored 14-2 in the first period. However, unlike past games the Senators didn’t unravel after giving up the first goal.
“I thought the response on the bench was very good,”said MacLean.“We knew we were playing pretty well up to that point … but I thought our next shifts after the goal was scored were very good shifts and I thought we put it behind us very well and kept playing.”
Ottawa tied the game early in the second with a power-play goal as Michalek battled for a rebound in the crease. The Senators then took the lead for good when Spezza took a pass from behind the net and beat Pavelec high glove-side.
This marked just the second time this season that the Senators held a lead in a game and the first time they would not relinquish it.
“I mentioned it to a few guys and said let’s see how we can handle playing with the lead,”said Alfredsson.“It’s important to get the lead and we were able to protect it pretty good.”
A turnover at centre ice by Johnny Oduya proved costly as Alfredsson intercepted the pass and beat Pavelec high stick-side to give Ottawa a 3-1 lead midway through the third.
“I have to give credit to Alfie; that’s just a clutch goal and shows his leadership,”said Greening.“It gave us a bit of a cushion and I’ll give him props for that one too.”
Michalek scored his second into an empty net with under a minute left to play. The winger has five goals on the season.
Jesse Winchester returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on the opening day of training camp, but the Senators lost Peter Regin midway through the first with a shoulder injury and he did not return.
Regin will be re-evaluated Friday, but should the injury be serious it would be a huge loss to the Senators.
Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd left the game early in the third after taking a puck in the face, but returned with just over five minutes remaining.
“We haven’t played up to par defensively,”said Winnipeg’s Kyle Wellwood.“Certainly there’s enough turnovers and mistakes that you’re not going to winconsistently and it has to get eliminated to be a .500 team.”
Notes: The Senators were without defenceman Matt Carkner (knee, four weeks) and RW Bobby Butler (groin, indefinite). RW Zenon Konopka and D Brian Lee were a healthy scratch. … Winnipeg was without RW Eric Fehr (shoulder, indefinitely), C Ben Maxwell (upper body, indefinitely), D Ron Hainsey (upper body, day-to-day). Defenceman Randy Jones and C Jim Slater were healthy scratches for the Jets.