After seeing his Ottawa Senators get off to a rough start, Paul MacLean could not have predicted the team’s furious finish to his first month behind the bench.
Colin Greening and Chris Neil scored power-play goals and Ottawa extended its winning streak to six with a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night.
Kaspars Daugavins scored his first NHL goal to put the Senators up 3-1 in the third. Robin Lehner stopped 22 shots in his season debut for Ottawa, which moved two games over .500 at 7-5-0 after winning only one of their first six.
Of course, the Senators’ new coach knew his team had it in them, right?
“Hypothetically speaking? No, but the fact that this happened is outstanding,” said MacLean, who was an assistant coach with Detroit the past four seasons. “I think our team has showed a lot of resiliency and character through the 12 games we’ve played.
“We’ve handled adversity, we’ve faced adversity, we’ve caused our own adversity, we’ve kind of been up and down the hill but it’s all a learning process and we know that at some point in time it’s going to come to an end, then we’re going to have to get back on the horse and do it again,” MacLean said.
“But right now our team is working consistently very hard and working consistently for 60 minutes and when you do that in this league good things happen.”
The Edmonton Oilers are also on a hot streak, winning five in a row with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Elsewhere, Columbus beat Anaheim 3-1 and Colorado edged Los Angeles 3-2.
At Ottawa, Clarke MacArthur scored his second goal of the game midway through the third to draw Toronto within one.
Jonas Gustavsson made 27 saves in his fourth straight start for the Maple Leafs, who had won two in a row.
“It was a good job by their team,” MacArthur said. “They battled hard all night and we might have played 25 minutes out there tonight so you can’t expect to win games.”
The Senators are on their best run since March 22-April 1, 2010, when they also put together a six-game winning streak.
“We’ve got a good thing going right now and we want to keep it going,” Neil said. “For the most part we did a good job of playing with the lead tonight and that’s important. Once we got that early goal back that they got on the power play, our power play came up big and got two goals, and then Daugy came out and had a great shot. It’s a nice way to get your first point.”
Toronto, which has not lost consecutive games, went 7-3-1 in October and leads the Northeast Division with 15 points.
“Our attitude is not to lose two games in a row and what’s happened, happened. We’ll be focused on the next game,” coach Ron Wilson said. “We didn’t accomplish anything but have a fairly good month so we’ve got to focus for our next two games, which are on the road, and go from there.”
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson did not play after he was injured in Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win in New York. Alfredsson had to be helped off the ice after taking a hit to head from the Rangers’ Wojtek Wolski, who was given a minor penalty on the play.
“Alfie’s the same as he was (Saturday) night,” said MacLean, who confirmed that Alfredsson would not travel with the team for Tuesday night’s game in Boston. “We’re going to follow the league protocol with it and we’ll go from there.”
Ottawa’s Zack Smith stripped the puck off Matthew Lombardi to set up the Senators’ third goal 7:08 into the third. Daugavins beat Gustavsson with a shot from the right side to make it a two-goal lead. Linemate Bobby Butler went to the left boards to pick up the milestone puck on his behalf before joining the goal celebration.
MacArthur, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal 11:20 in, drew Toronto within one with his second of the game at 9:07. Linemates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin assisted on both goals.
Greening tied it at 1-all with a power-play goal 16:16 into the first. Senators defenceman David Rundblad fed a long pass up the middle to Greening, who drove in on a breakaway and fired a shot past Gustavsson with 4 seconds left in a penalty to Toronto’s Carl Gunnarsson.
Neil put Ottawa ahead 2-1 on a power play 7:59 into the second when he deflected Erik Karlsson’s point shot past Gustavsson for his third of the season.
Oilers 4 Blues 2
At Edmonton, Ryan Smyth had a pair of goals as the Oilers won their fifth straight and moved into a tie for first place in the Western Conference with Dallas.
Blue Jackets 3 Ducks 1
At Columbus, Ohio, Rick Nash, rookie Ryan Johansen and Fedor Tyutin each scored for the Blue Jackets in only their second win of the season.
Avalanche 3 Kings 2
At Denver, Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots, Matt Duchene scored an early third period goal and the Colorado Avalanche beat Los Angeles for their first home win of the season.