OTTAWA – The Senators finally saw their six-game losing streak come to an end with a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon.
Unveiling their new third jersey, the Senators (7-9-4) seemed to gain a little attitude and luck from the black sweaters.
“When we had black before we had a pretty good record,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “If we can squeeze a few more games in with the black I won’t mind.”
Perhaps it was the fact the Senators stuck with the game plan for a full 60 minutes.
“I thought we played really hard and smart,” said coach Craig Hartsburg. “The guys kept their energy high over the week which is important and we said keep playing like this every night and we’ll win our fair share. Hopefully this was a sign.”
After losing the last two games in a shootout, Hartsburg had been preaching the importance of staying confident and was pleased to finally see his team come out with a victory.
“It’s nice to see them get rewarded.”
Also crucial to the team’s success against the Rangers was the play of Jarkko Ruutu, who’s in-your-face style drew New York into taking penalties.
Ottawa scored its first goal off the ensuing power play and played much of the end of the game on a power play after Colton Orr was ejected from the game with a game misconduct and a double-minor for roughing.
“Ruutu’s a real effective player,” said Ottawa’s Jason Spezza. “I think he’s underrated for his hockey sense. He drew penalties early on and gave us some momentum.”
Ruutu enjoys getting under his opponent’s skin.
“I like when the games are emotional,” said Ruutu. “I like being able to get into the game.”
Spezza, Alfredsson, Jesse Winchester and Nick Foligno scored for the Senators while Alex Auld was solid stopping 18 shots.
Markus Naslund scored the lone goal for the Rangers (14-7-2). Steve Valiquette faced 36 shots for the Rangers, who dropped their second straight game.
Spezza opened the scoring with a power-play goal five minutes into the game as Dany Heatley broke through the Rangers defence to feed Spezza with a great pass.
The Rangers struggled through the first period as they failed to register their first shot until the 13-minute mark.
Ottawa looked to have taken a two-goal lead early in the second, but for the second straight game the goal was called back after it was ruled Foligno tipped it with a high stick.
Ottawa took control of the game late in the second period scoring two goals in 82 seconds.
Winchester, scoring just his second NHL career goal, beat Valiquette with Wade Redden draped all over him with just over two minutes remaining.
Alfredsson then made it 3-0 as Valiquette was caught unaware with Ruutu creating a great screen.
“We stuck with it and played really well,” said Alfredsson. “Hopefully this will be the start of a good streak for us.”
The Rangers finally solved Auld in the opening minutes of the third as Naslund’s wrist shot just slipped through the pads. Redden had an assist on the play.
Redden, making his first return to Ottawa since signing with the Rangers in the off-season, was greeted with a video tribute at the six-minute mark of the first period. At the end of the video Redden was thanked for all his contributions during his 11-year tenure in Ottawa which resulted in a standing ovation from the 19,619 at Scotiabank Place for the defenceman.
“I didn’t know it was coming,” said Redden. “It was really nice of them to recognize my time here.”
He admitted it felt a little strange to be on the visitor’s side, but was happy to get this game out of the way.
“I wasn’t too nervous,” he said. “I felt like this was the game that meant I had really moved on.”
Foligno redeemed himself midway through the third as he tipped Ruutu’s shot to give the Senators a 4-1 lead.
The Senators, who are just 4-5-2 as the home team this year, will complete a three-game homestand Thursday against Toronto.
“We felt like we had been playing well enough to win,” said Auld. “It’s a great feeling to finally get one. It’s good for the morale and now we can build on this and keep going.”
The Senators unveiled their newest third jersey which is black with red running on the bottom half of the sleeves and down the side of the jersey with white numbers and lettering and the wording Sens featured along the front in red. The team will also wear new pants, which feature a red stripe down the sides, and socks to compliment the look.
Notes: Ottawa was without C Mike Fisher (knee, 2-to-4 weeks), RW Chris Neil (knee, 4-to-6 weeks), RW Ryan Shannon (concussion, day-to-day), D Christoph Schubert and Luke Richardson were a healthy scratch. The Rangers were without C Scott Gomez (ankle, day-to-day). RW Peter Prucha was a healthy scratch.