OTTAWA – Finally, some breathing room for the Ottawa Senators. There would be no one-goal game this time.
Jakob Silfverberg scored two goals Sunday as the Senators topped the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 at Scotiabank Place.
"[Silfverberg] is hitting his stride," coach Paul MacLean said. "It was the same when he played with [Brynäs IF of the Swedish Elite League] after 15 or 20 games. Now he's learning what it takes to be successful in the National Hockey League."
Kyle Turris and Guillaume Latendresse also scored for the Sens (15-8-6), while captain Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar each added two assists. Zach Bogosian had the lone goal for the Jets (15-12-2).
Entering Sunday's action, the Senators had previously gone 11 games where the score had come down to one goal. Ottawa came out firing, outshooting the Jets 19-6 in the first. MacLean claimed it was the best first period the Sens have played all season.
"If we could bottle that, we'd be great," he said.
Robin Lehner made 25 saves for the win, while Ondrej Pavelec turned away 38 of 42 shots. MacLean was pleased with the performance of his current backup, who made his fifth start of the season. Lehner and Ben Bishop continue to handle the netminding duties for Ottawa after Craig Anderson was sidelined with an ankle sprain on Feb. 21.
"Maybe Lehner is Irish," MacLean said with a laugh, referring to St. Patrick's Day. "I thought he was the difference maker, especially on the [penalty kill]. He was outstanding."
Ottawa came out with pressure in the first period and its efforts paid off early. Pavelec made a pad save on Alfredsson's shot from the bottom of the right circle, but the puck popped back out and Latendresse bobbled it up and over the shoulder of the Winnipeg goaltender at 3:44.
With 1:21 left in period, the Senators struck again, this time on the power play. After Chris Thorburn was called for hooking at 17:42, Ottawa's special teams swarmed the Jets' offensive zone. Sergei Gonchar sent a cross-ice pass through the slot to Silfverberg, who went top shelf on Pavelec for his fifth of the season. The successful power play by the Sens broke a 12-game streak for Winnipeg – the Jets had previously killed off their last 29 penalties without allowing a goal.
"We've been great on the power play lately and we're playing with a lot of confidence," Silfverberg said. "For me, it definitely felt like one of my better games this season. I feel like I've been playing [well], I just haven't been able to find the net, but tonight I did it twice, and that was a lot of fun."
Winnipeg got on the board early in the third period, when Bogosian's slap shot from the blue line flew through traffic and beat Lehner at 3:26, making the score 2-1. Andrew Ladd picked up an assist on the goal for his fourth point in as many games.
The Jets maintained pressure through the third period but Lehner stood tall, making a pad save on an Evander Kane breakaway, and a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance with Kane and Wheeler. Kane again took the shot, and Lehner was able to make the stick save.
But the Senators would respond once more on the power play, after Ron Hainsey was called for a delay of game at 10:49. Alfredsson sent a beautiful shot through the slot to Turris, who beat Pavelec with a slap shot at 11:30, making the score 3-1. Gonchar also picked up an assist on the goal, giving him 10 points in his past seven games.
Ottawa made the score 4-1 after Mika Zibanejad's rebound was picked up by Silfverberg – the Swede took puck into the corner to Pavelec's right, skated through the faceoff circle and wristed it into the roof of the Winnipeg net at 12:45.
The Jets had points in six straight games (5-0-1) and were riding a three-game winning streak prior to facing the Sens on Monday. But after three games in four days, Jets coach Claude Noel admitted that his team was tired.
"I thought in the first period, fatigue was a factor," Noel said. "We came out and we weren't very physical. The [Senators] were intense and they took our play to us. I thought [Pavelec] gave a great chance to win the game. I think the fact that we played three games in four days, and not really playing with four lines really caught up with us. I can't really fault the players for that.
"I thought they worked hard, especially in the second period, and played a method that would have taken a lot of energy to go for a whole 60 minutes. There's always mental fatigue at play, [as well]. Today was no easy task. You look at the start and you wonder the reasons why. Those are the reasons."