OTTAWA – Alex Ponikarovsky made sure Al Montoya won the battle of the backup goaltenders Saturday.
Ponikarovsky scored the only goal and Montoya stopped 33 shots to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Ottawa had no answer for Montoya, who replaced an ailing Ondrej Pavelec (flu) and recorded his first shutout of the season and third of his career.
“The team really battled for me,” Montoya said. “I felt for the start of every period we were in control of the puck and sometimes you want to see shots, but I felt good and I felt comfortable out there.
“I felt like I did everything to prepare for this game.”
Like Montoya, Ottawa backup Ben Bishop made just his second start of the season as Craig Anderson got the day off. Bishop was solid, finishing with 36 saves.
“Ben Bishop was outstanding in the net for us,” Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said. “He really played well but we weren’t even good enough.
“The last 10 minutes after they scored is when we actually started to play. They were way better than us. Montoya played very well for them. We had 80 attempts at the net but we didn’t have enough people at the net.”
The Senators also lost Peter Regin (upper-body injury) early in the first after he blocked a Grant Clitsome shot. He’ll be reassessed Sunday but MacLean said the injury isn’t related to a shoulder problem that has plagued Regin the past two seasons.
The game’s only goal came when Kyle Wellwood intercepted a clearing attempt and took a shot from inside the blue-line. Ponikarovsky deflected it over Bishop’s shoulder, off both posts and into the net at 5:57 of the third.
“It was a pretty good game and everyone battled for every inch of the ice and overall the guys did a good job,” Ponikarovsky said. “We had a couple opportunities to score but it didn’t go in.
“We just stuck with the gameplan and it happened to be me who got the goal, but everyone worked hard and I’m just glad to get the goal for the team.”
The Jets (5-5-1) have won just twice in six contests but snapped a three-game road losing streak.
Ottawa (6-4-2) has scored just seven goals in its past five games. Four came in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Twice the Senators have lost 1-0 decisions in that span.
Kyle Turris, who leads the Senators in scoring with 10 points, said the team needs to bear down and create more opportunities, especially with No. 1 centre Jason Spezza out long-term because of injury.
“Collectively we have to come together and find a way to create offence, put pucks and bodies at the net and gain more offensive zone time, and I have to do a better job of that myself,” he said. “We know we can do a lot better, we just have to do it more consistently.”
Goaltending hasn’t been an issue as Ottawa has allowed just 15 goals in its past eight games. Turris said it would have been nice to help out Bishop when he was doing so much for them.
“When he’s playing that well and giving us a chance we want to help him out too and put at least one or two on the board,” Turris said, adding that both goaltenders are playing very well.
“Andy and Bish are unreal. They’re playing amazing and keeping us in games and giving us a chance to win. They do a great job for 60 minutes giving us a chance so we have to do a better job helping them out.”
Notes: The Jets came into the game with the most points from their defence corps with 34. St. Louis was second with 31 points, four more than Ottawa. … Senators’ forwards Eric Condra and Colin Greening have each gone five games without a point. … Jim O’Brien and Andres Benoit were scratches for the Senators, while Anthony Peluso and Dustin Byfuglien didn’t dress for the Jets.