OTTAWA - The Nashville Predators piled on the goals, and the misery, against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
The slumping Senators saw their season-high winless streak extended to five games in cruel, but deserved, fashion when Martin Erat scored with 22.2 seconds remaining in regulation time to give the Predators a 6-5 victory.
The Senators had battled back from at least a goal down on four separate occasions and appeared to have earned at least a point when Daniel Alfredsson tied the game with 45.5 seconds to play.
But Erat applied the knockout blow when he beat Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber with a high shot from the left faceoff circle, breaking the hearts of the struggling Senators and the crowd of 19,538 at sold-out Scotiabank Place in the process.
"We're finding ways to lose where we found ways to win before," Alfredsson said after Ottawa's winless run reached its longest stretch in more than a year.
"It's part of the game. Right now, we're not playing great defensively. That's what happens when you're pressing a little bit and they made a great play."
Alfredsson also had an assist and Joe Corvo, Antoine Vermette and Dany Heatley had the other goals for Ottawa, which lost 3-2 in shootout away to the New York Islanders a night earlier.
Since starting the season 15-2-0, the Eastern Conference-leading Senators (16-6-2) have now lost six of seven games. The six goals they gave up Thursday equalled a season high.
"We don't give up six goals and we don't give up easy goals like that when we fight to come back. It's just out of our character," said Jason Spezza, who had a goal and an assist for Ottawa. "It's back to the drawing board and find a way out of this."
Erat also had a pair of assists and J.P. Dumont scored once and set up three other goals, including the winner, for the Predators (12-9-2).
Ryan Suter added a goal and an assist and Dan Hamhuis, Greg de Vries and Martin Gelinas also scored.
Goaltender Dan Ellis stopped 27 shots to remain unbeaten at 5-0 on the season despite the late scare.
"I think the fans got a great game and whoever was watching, I hope they enjoyed that one because that was NHL hockey," Ellis said. "That's a great win for us. Ottawa is the top team in the East and for our guys, we're just trying to climb up that ladder.
"That third period was one of the wilder third periods that you'll see throughout the course of the season. Both teams were just throwing pucks at nets and getting rebounds and picking corners.
"They hemmed us in towards the last five minutes of that game, but we responded."
Gerber finished with 29 saves.
Nashville had lost three of its previous four and was coming off a 4-3 defeat to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
The Predators, embarking on a three-game road trip, scored early, then the rest of the night became of game of last goal wins and Nashville wasn't content to settle for a single point.
"That was the mindset, but we figured we had a little bit of time left," Predators centre Jason Arnott said of the dramatic finish. "We just made the rush and got the goal. We didn't hold back and wait for overtime. We tried to get that goal because we knew we didn't really want to go into overtime against them.
Not since the Senators dropped five straight contests between Oct. 28 and Nov. 8, 2006, have they gone this long without a victory.
The Senators also lost the services of Anton Volchenkov after the defenceman was struck by a shot on the right hand in the game's opening minute and didn't return. His status was not immediately known.
The Predators were making their first trip to Canadian cities in the Eastern Conference since 2004.
Things started badly for the Senators when Alfredsson took a high-sticking penalty on the opening shift to give Nashville a power-play opportunity.
Volchenkov blocked a shot from the point and the rebound fell in the slot to Hamhuis, who beat Gerber to make it 1-0 just 44 seconds in and ended Volchenkov's night in the process.
From there, the teams traded goals, but when Gelinas scored on a fluky goal midway through the third after Senators defenceman Andrej Meszaros kicked the puck into his own net, the Predators appeared to have things sealed.
However, Spezza scored three minutes later to cut the lead to 5-4, setting up the wild finish.
With Gerber on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, Alfredsson walked out from the corner and picked the top of the net over Ellis' shoulder.
With overtime looming, the Predators made one last rush and were rewarded when Dumont fed Erat in the faceoff circle and his high shot picked the top corner.
"J.P. made a great play," Erat said. "Arnie went hard to the net and I just tried to put it at the net and lucky enough, it went in."
Notes: Corvo was playing in his 100th game in an Ottawa uniform. ... The Senators are at home to the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon. ... Nashville centre David Legwand needs one more point to become the franchise's all-time leader in career scoring. His 301 points have him currently tied with former Predators defenceman Kimmo Timonen, now with the Philadelphia Flyers, for top spot. ... The Predators travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Saturday before wrapping up their road trip Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.