OTTAWA – With his first NHL goal finally in the books, Jesse Winchester’s next order of business is finding a place for the milestone puck.
The Ottawa Senators rookie scored and added an assist Thursday to help the Ottawa Senators down the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1.
“I’m not sure who picked (the puck) up but it ended up in my stall after the game,” Winchester said. “I’ll probably keep in there for a while then maybe take it home. I’m not sure. I’m going to keep it though.”
Winchester took a pass from Daniel Alfredsson and slipped a backhand through the legs of Antero Niittymaki in the Flyers goal. The puck was in the back of the net for a couple of seconds before Winchester realized he had scored. He then threw his arms up in the air and began his celebration.
“I bobbled the pass and I just tried to shovel it at the net,” Winchester said. “Once it went in I was all smiles, but for a while I had no idea.
“It’s been a while coming. I haven’t gone that many games without a goal in a long time.”
Winchester has appeared in all 13 of the Senators’ games this season. He suited up just once in 2007-08.
Anton Volchenkov, Dany Heatley and Chris Neil, into an empty net, also scored for the Senators (6-5-2) while Mike Fisher had two assists. Alex Auld made his seventh straight start for the Senators and made 17 saves.
“I’m feeling pretty good. You never want to comfortable but obviously things are going well,” Auld said after collecting his fourth win in his past five starts. The Senators are 4-0-1 over that stretch.
Aaron Asham scored his first goal of the season for the Flyers (4-5-3). Niittymaki made 21 saves in the loss.
Winchester told coach Craig Hartsburg Thursday morning that he had a premonition he was going to score.
“He played a good game it was nice for him to get that monkey off his back,” Hartsburg said.
The Senators took a 2-0 lead in the first period. Volchenkov took a shot that hit where the post and crossbar meet to give the Senators a 1-0 lead at 8:49.
Four minutes later, Heatley scored for a fifth consecutive game when he converted a pass from Jason Spezza while the Senators were on a power play.
Braydon Coburn was serving a major boarding penalty at the time after he ran Antoine Vermette from behind. Heatley’s goal came just 32 seconds into the penalty but the Senators were unable to connect again during the final 4:28 of the power play time.
“You have to give (the Senators) credit, they played a sound hockey game,” said Flyers coach John Stevens. “We’ve got to show more patience from start to finish and keep these games close early so we don’t have to play catch up so often.”
The Flyers cut the lead to 2-1 seven minutes into the second period when Asham got to a loose puck the Senators couldn’t clear and fired a low shot passed Auld.
Winchester restored the two-goal lead less than a minute later. Neil sealed the affair with 1:41 to play.
“After a goal the job is to go out try and get the momentum back. We were lucky to stuff one in there right away. It gave a little momentum to our team and we played pretty solidly after that,” Winchester said.
The Senators also had a goal disallowed when it was ruled Vermette had kicked the puck into the Flyers goal.
Notes: Philadelphia forward Mike Knuble played in his 750th career game Thursday and needs one assist to reach 200 in the NHL. … The Flyers were the first expansion team to score 10,000 goals and they did it March 5, 2004 against the Senators. … The Senators set a franchise record for most penalties and penalty minutes in a game (29-200) against the Flyers in 2004, but they also registered zero penalties minutes in a game twice against the Flyers, once in 2002 and again in 2006.