EDMONTON — With their 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, the Ottawa Senators accomplished a rare feat. They swept Alberta for the first time since they did it in the 2002-03 season when they beat the Calgary Flames 1-0 and the Oilers 2-0.
The victory puts their winning streak at three games. They now have two days until Sunday’s game against the Canucks in Vancouver.
The Senators never looked back after taking a 3-0 first-period lead that chased Oiler starter Nikolai Khabibulin. He stopped just four of seven shots.
Colin Greening, Kaspars Daugavins, Milan Michalek, Zenon Konopka, and Jesse Winchester, with his first of the season, scored for the Senators.
Jason Spezza also had two assists, while Michalek got one to go with his goal.
Anton Lander, with a shorthanded goal, his first in the NHL, and Ryan Jones, scored for the Oilers.
Anderson faced 24 shots. Devan Dubnyk, who replaced Khabibulin at the start of the second, faced nine.
A big part of Ottawa’s recent success is that the offensive production has been spread out.
“It’s been theme of the last three wins,” said Jason Spezza.
“We’ve been getting contributions from everyone. No real big nights from one particular line, just solid performances by everyone, and it’s definitely good to chip in.”
After the Oilers took it to the Senators for about the first six minutes, getting at least four good scoring chances, including a brilliant one from 18-year-old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins that Anderson just got, the Senators took over the game.
They took the crowd right out of it by getting with two goals within nine seconds, from 7:30 to 7:39, tying a team record set in 2010 against Phoenix by Erik Karlsson and Alex Kovalev.
“They did come out hard and we expected them to,” said Ottawa coach Paul MacLean.
“But Craig Anderson was solid for us in net. We played pretty good in our own end, as far as not giving up second and third opportunities.
“We got one puck off the glass and got in behind them for a two-on-one and ended up with an opportunity. Then we turned over another puck on the back check and got another opportunity to make it 2-0.
“Once we got to that point we relaxed a little bit better.”
Spezza was also quick to credit Anderson.
“(Anderson) played real solid early,” said Spezza.
“They had a lot of puck possession time, but they gave us a couple of quality chances.
“We made the most of our chances, kept them to the outside, and didn’t give them much.”
Greening got Ottawa’s first goal, completing a two-on-one with Michalek, started with a pass by Jason Spezza. From the right circle, Michalek slid a pass to Greening and he beat Khabibulin high to the stick side for his fifth.
Nine seconds later, at 7:39, Daugavins got the second of his NHL career, when, from the left circle, he beat Khabibulin with a well-placed shot to the far side. A good shot, but you’d think that a goalie like Khabibulin would have had that angle covered.
The Senators very nearly got another with 7:53 left but Khabibulin just got his left pad on a shot by Stephane Da Costa.
No matter. With 56.8 seconds to go in the period, Michalek got his 12th.
After Spezza won a faceoff in the left circle, Michalek, in the slot, hit a wobbly puck past Khabibulin’s glove.
The fallout from allowing three goals on seven shots was predictable: Khabibulin was out and Dubnyk was in.
The Senators would go on to score on four of their first nine, and five of their first 11, shots.
The Oilers cut Ottawa’s lead to 3-1 just 2:14 into the second when Lander got a wrister past Anderson.
In his first NHL season, the 20-year-old Lander was the Oilers second choice (40th overall) in the 2009 draft.
Lander’s goal hurt because it came with Ottawa on a power play.
But Winchester increased the lead to a little more than five minutes later with a play that Edmonton fans were justified in booing.
It started when Filip Kuba tripped Jordan Eberle coming around the Ottawa net, with the puck sliding off Eberle’s stick to Bobby Butler, who in turn set Winchester free with another pass.
Like everyone else in the building, though, Winchester was waiting for the whistle. He even slowed up when he crossed the Edmonton blue line and turned to see what was happening.
When he saw it was all clear, he turned and beat Dubnyk high to the glove side.
After the game, Winchester said he was indeed looking to see if a penalty had been called.
When he stepped on the ice, out of the corner of his eye he said it looked like “a blue guy got tripped.”
He was right, except there was no call.
Because the crowd was so loud, Winchester couldn’t hear if there had been a whistle so he turned to look.
“I didn’t want to go in and shoot on a goalie if a penalty had been called,” he said.
“And I didn’t expect to be that open on a breakaway. I was stunned.”
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WHY THEY WON: Because they played a disciplined game and capitalized on some sloppy defensive work by the Oilers, who lost Andy Sutton in the first period with a groin injury. The Oilers might have set a record for giving up two-on-ones in this game.
STUD: Craig Anderson. For the second night in a row. Anderson didn’t get a lot of action, which the Oilers will certainly hear about, but Anderson had to be good in the first seven minutes when the Oilers put all sorts of pressure on him. If the Oilers got a couple to start, the game would have been entirely different.
DUD: Oiler goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. He lasted just 20 minutes, giving up three goals on only seven shots. That’s going to take a bite out of his save percentage.
FAST GOALS: The first-period goals within nine seconds of each other by Greening and Daugavins tied a team record for fastest two goals. The previous record was set only in 2010 by Erik Karlsson and Alex Kovalev in a game against Phoenix.
LONG WAIT: Jesse Winchester’s goal was his first in 43 games, since Jan. 13, 2011, against the Islanders. It was the second-longest goalless drought on the team. Brian Lee still has the longest at 75 and counting, while Chris Phillips is next at 40.