OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets are headed in opposite directions.
Milan Michalek scored with 4.7 seconds left in regulation Saturday as the Senators downed Columbus 4-3, winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"That was a great game," said Sergei Gonchar, who had an assist on the winning goal. "It seems like we're playing better and better and finally we're starting to pick up some wins."
Filip Kuba, Zack Smith and Jason Spezza also scored for the Senators (3-5-0). Craig Anderson faced 21 shots.
Columbus stands in stark contrast to Ottawa.
The Blue Jackets (0-7-1) remain winless after eight games. Columbus' last win came last season in a shootout against the Florida Panthers on March 29.
"I feel for these guys," said Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel. "These guys busted their tail after playing (Friday) night. We came in here and worked our tails off. I'm so disappointed for these guys."
Aaron Johnson, Kris Russell and Rick Nash scored for Columbus. Steve Mason stopped 23 shots.
The Blue Jackets, who scored more than two goals for the first time this season, are off to their worst start in franchise history and sit dead last in league standings with just one point.
There is little doubt that the losses are starting to take a toll on Columbus players as Nash looked completely dejected speaking to the media following the game.
"We played well for 59 minutes and then they got to us at the end," said Nash, who was playing in his 600th game. "It's tough. It seems like we're not getting any bounces. It seems like we're finding ways to lose games instead of finding ways to win games. That's the difference between good teams and bad teams right now."
The Senators opened the scoring with a power-play goal as Spezza found Kuba all alone, and the defenceman beat Mason through his legs.
The Blue Jackets tied the game midway through the period as Johnson dived on a rebound left in the crease.
The Senators came out flat to start the second as they got caught on the wrong end of a four-on-two, and Russell beat Anderson just 16 seconds into the period.
After missing on a couple early opportunities, Smith scored his first of the season with a quick snap shot off a feed from Erik Condra from behind the net.
The Blue Jackets took the lead with a power-play goal by Nash, who beat Anderson from just inside the blue-line.
Holding a 3-2 lead with less than one minute remaining Nash admitted the team felt pretty good about its chances, but the Blue Jackets have been anything but lucky of late.
"It seemed too good to be true for our season right now," said Nash. "We're in tough times. We've got to stay up, we've got to stay positive and leaders have to lead and keep making the young guys follow, but (Saturday) I'm speechless for what happened."
Daniel Alfredsson had a great chance to tie it up in the dying minutes of the period, but was stopped by Mason and dragged down by Kris Russell. Spezza tied the game on the ensuing power play.
Alfredsson has been a focal point for Ottawa's offence the past two games. He scored an important goal in a 3-1 win over Winnipeg on Thursday and his performance Saturday is what the Senators are expecting from their captain.
Alfredsson forced turnovers, was strong on the forecheck and created havoc for a number of the Blue Jackets.
"It's fun to play when I'm able to do those things," said Alfredsson. "That's what I enjoy the most."
Notes: The Senators were without C Peter Regin (shoulder, indefinitely), D Matt Carkner (knee, indefinitely) and RW Bobby Butler (groin, indefinitely). Zenon Konopka will play in his 200th NHL game. D Brian Lee was a healthy scratch??? Columbus was without LW Kristian Huselius (torn pectoral muscle, indefinitely), C Jeff Carter (hairline fracture of foot, indefinitely), D Curtis Sanford (groin, 2-4 weeks), RW Jarrett Boll (broken thumb, 6-8 weeks), Marc Methot (broken right thumb, indefinitely), James Wisniewski (undisclosed, indefinite).