OTTAWA - After four months, Ray Emery finally got the taste of an NHL game Saturday night, but it will be at least another seven days until he gets another.
Emery, who underwent off-season wrist surgery, made 31 saves as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Florida Panthers 4-1 at Scotiabank Place. Other than two periods in the pre-season, he hadn't seen any NHL action since June when the Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Final. He did play two games last weekend for the Senators' AHL affiliate in Binghamton (N.Y.) and stopped 80 of 86 shots.
The Senators are now off until they play the New Jersey Devils as the teams will open the brand new Prudential Center in Newark next Saturday.
"I thought the team played really well and I felt pretty good in there, Kind of like I expected," Emery said.
"It's a situation where I know the team is going to play well so I just have to play solid so it makes it easier to come back from an injury. It was a welcome change to get back in a game."
Mike Fisher and Shean Donovan scored second-period goals for the Senators (8-1-0-0), while Christoph Schubert and Daniel Alfredsson scored in the third period to seal the victory.
The Panthers (3-5-0-0) got their lone goal on a power play in the second period when Richard Zednik stuffed a loose puck between Emery and the goalpost. Tomas Vokoun made 43 saves in the Florida goal.
"The main focus was to get pucks on net, get a lot of traffic and hopefully get a couple by him," was how Panthers forward Anthony Stewart explained his teams approach to facing Emery.
"We really didn't stick to the game plan. We stuck in there early but their guns took over towards the end."
After a scoreless first period there was plenty of action in the second as all three goals were scored and two players left because of injury in the first six minutes.
Senators rookie Nick Foligno left after getting hit from behind into the boards by Panthers defenceman Branislav Mezei.
A penalty was coming on the play, but Fisher scored at 2:09 to give the Senators a 1-0 lead. Foligno suffered a neck sprain and did not return.
After the Senators took a 2-0 lead on Donovan's first goal of the season at 3:11, Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov was assessed a major penalty for hitting from behind and a game misconduct when he ran David Booth into the end boards.
Booth stayed on the ice for several minutes before being taken off on a stretcher. He was conscious and alert and able to move his arms and legs, but was taken to the Ottawa Civic Hospital as a precautionary measure.
Zednik scored on the ensuing power play at 5:29.
After registering at least a point in the first eight games, Jason Spezza was held pointless by the Panthers as was linemate Dany Heatley. Alfredsson, the third member of that line, had a goal.
"I thought our line was pretty good. We've had worse games and gotten points and tonight we played pretty good and didn't get one," said Spezza.
"The most important thing is we're 8-1 and we've had a god first stretch to the season."
Notes: Forwards Dany Heatley and Chris Kelly, along with defenceman Andrej Meszaros, have played in all the Senators 173 regular season game since the NHL returned from the lockout in 2005-06. ... Panther forward Olli Jokinen has played in 302 consecutive games. ... The Senators are 8-0 when they score first and 0-1 when the opposition scores first.