It was a battle of David vs. Goliath on Saturday when the Winnipeg Jets rolled into Ottawa to take on the Senators.
The Jets came into the game as the third-place team in the NHL while the lowly Senators sat dead last, but it was the Sens who came out on top with a 5-2 victory.
Mark Stone scored two goals for Ottawa while Matt Duchene added a goal and an assist. Ryan Dzingel and Zack Smith had the other goals for the Senators. Anders Nilsson, making his second straight start after a 4-0 shutout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, made 44 saves in the win.
Senators head coach Guy Boucher spoke about his goaltender’s performance after the game.
“He’d won five of his last seven starts with us and now that’s six of his last eight so he’s been practicing solid, he’s been playing solid,” said Boucher. “When you’ve got solid goaltending you can win any game and we’re winning games. That’s what we’re getting.”
It wasn’t lost on anyone that four of the Senators five goals came from pending unrestricted forwards Stone, Duchene and Dzingel, but Boucher refused to comment on their respective contract status, saying he and the players only focus on what happens on the ice.
“We don’t talk about it. That’s outside stuff. We talk about how we’re going to play and we talk about who’s going to play with who,” said Boucher. “It’s about managing what we control on the ice and the players have been extremely professional and very focused so I haven’t seen any change in their approach, so we definitely don’t want to change that.”
Brendan Lemieux scored to make it 5-2 with about 43 seconds remaining in the third but the game was far out of reach for Winnipeg at that point.
Bryan Little scored the other goal for the Jets and Laurent Brossoit had an uncharacteristically bad game, allowing five goals on 32 shots.
Mark Stone’s 24th goal of the season opened the scoring less than three minutes into the first off a slick wrist shot that beat Brossoit short side.
Sens came out strong in the first, outshooting the Jets 7-1 at one point, but they took their foot off the gas a bit and gave the Jets some quality scoring chances the rest of the game.
It was a milestone night for Duchene, who had two points in his 700th NHL game.
The Sens look to make it three straight at home against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.