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Senators ground Jets 4-1

by Erin Nicks /
KANATA, Ont. -- The return of the Jets to Winnipeg may be the feel-good story in the NHL right now. The Ottawa Senators weren't interested in making them feel any better.

The Senators got their first regulation win in seven games this season by beating the Jets 4-1 at Scotiabank Place on Thursday night. Milan Michalek had two goals and an assist, Jason Spezza had a goal and a pair of assists and Daniel Alfredsson scored his third goal of the season.

Dustin Byfuglien scored in the first period for Winnipeg, which fell to 1-4-1. The Jets lost 4-3 in a shootout at Toronto on Wednesday, two nights after beating Pittsburgh 2-1 at home for their first win since relocating from Atlanta. The team has been cheered in visits to other Canadian cities as it makes the first visit by a Winnipeg team since the original Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996.

The Senators improved to 2-5-0 and got their first victory since beating Minnesota 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 12. It was a welcome change from their last two home games, in which they allowed seven goals apiece in losses to Colorado and Philadelphia.

Coach Paul MacLean felt special teams were the story of the night -- the Senators got a power-play goal and his struggling penalty-killers held Winnipeg scoreless in four tries.

"We've been down a couple of touchdowns," MacLean said of the slow start, in which his team has been spotting opponents big leads on most nights. "More than half of them were against our penalty-killers. They did a good job (tonight). That was the big difference."

MacLean also praised the play of rookie Colin Greening, who had two assists while playing with Spezza and Michalek. It was Greening's quick power-play feed to Michalek at 4:48 in the second period for the game-tying goal. Michalek quickly backhanded the puck over Ondrej Pavelec, and the Sens did not look back for the rest of the evening.

"I thought Greening was outstanding on our power play all night long," MacLean said. "He was a big part of (Michalek's) goal, keeping the puck alive at the net, and as a line, (Michalek, Spezza) and Greening carried the bulk of our offense."

Greening also acknowledged the chemistry that his line found against the Jets.

"Sometimes it just clicks," he said. "I can't really give a reason for it. Obviously we built off that power-play goal, which was huge. Hopefully we can stay together and get a few more goals like that. I was at the net – that's my job. But you could tell that (Michalek) was reading off the play. He's a smart player, so obviously he knew that the puck was coming. He was there to pounce on it when it was free."

Spezza put the Senators ahead for the first time since they scored the opening goal against Colorado a week ago when he beat Ondrej Pavelec at 13:19 of the middle period.

"We didn't give up and we didn't let them take the momentum," Spezza said. "I think that's what we did differently. In other games, (opponents) have gotten the lead and we just let them take over the game. Tonight we did a much better job.  I think in the nights before, you could see guys' heads getting down, but not tonight. We knew we had to stick with it, and that's what we talked about. Things aren't always going to go our way. We didn't have a bad first period – we got down a goal, but we stuck with it, and came back and won."

Daniel Alfredsson zipped a high wrister past Pavelec at 9:15 of the third period to give the Senators some breathing room before Michalek hit the empty net in the final minute to seal the win.

The Jets pressed in the third, and attempted some late line-juggling, with Andrew Ladd seeing time alongside Alexander Burmistrov and Nik Antropov. Jets coach Claude Noel admitted that he was willing to try just about anything to get his team going.

"You're trying to get people on track," Noel said. "It's pretty clear that you can skate, and you can work, and you can be happy with some of the things in regards to effort, but at the end of the day, you have to be accountable to yourself for producing. And producing is winning games. If you're a scorer, score. If you're a checker, then check."

Ottawa's Peter Regin left the ice in the first period after being hit in the left shoulder by Antropov and did not return. He will be re-evaluated on Friday and there is no timetable for his return. Regin had surgery on the same shoulder during the off-season and also injured it in the preseason.
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