EDMONTON - Desperate to end a massive road losing streak, the Ottawa Senators decided to approach their regular-season match with the Edmonton Oilers with the intensity of a playoff game.
Brian Lee's first career NHL goal finally gave Ottawa a win on the road as the Senators snapped a mammoth 12-game road losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Antoine Vermette set up the winning power-play goal in the third period when he sent a pass back to Lee, who beat Edmonton goaltender Mathieu Garon with a blast from the point.
Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson added a goal and an assist apiece for the Senators (13-17-5) who ended a three-game losing streak overall and recorded just their second win in their last seven.
Spezza said finally getting a win on the road was a load off the team.
"For us it felt like a playoff game," he said.
"We were desperate, we were struggling and we're down on ourselves. Our confidence isn't very high right now and we're pulling at straws to find positives. We needed this win. The intensity for us towards the last 10 minutes of that game, was pretty intense."
Added Alfredsson: "This was a huge game for us. I don't know if we made them bad or if they didn't play their best today, but we played really good throughout the whole game. It should have been a bigger margin than it was."
Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg could tell how badly his team needed this one.
"I'm happy for the players, they're the ones who have to play every night and they knew what was over our heads with the losing streak on the road so I'm really happy for them," he said.
Ethan Moreau and Liam Reddox replied for the Oilers (17-15-3) who saw a three-game winning streak come to an end. The Oilers once again dropped to the .500 mark at home (6-6-3).
"We didn't start as sharply as we needed to," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "When you are playing a team that is struggling you know they are going to be desperate to get out of it and you have to show them something early in the hockey game."
Reddox, who filled in for injured Ales Hemsky on Edmonton's top line, felt this was a game the Oilers could have and should have won.
"We had a couple chances, a little spurt there at the end of the second where we could have had a big goal going into the third and maybe deflate them a little bit," he said. "It's definitely disappointing. It was there for the taking and we just couldn't capitalize."
The game took a while to get going as Rexall Place staff could not get the lights at the aging arena to fire up following the singing of the national anthem. Both teams returned to their locker-rooms before the game finally began 25 minutes behind schedule.
Ottawa opened the scoring midway through the first period. Just moments after Garon robbed him with a diving stick save, Spezza took a dandy feed from Alfredsson in front of the net and directing home his 15th of the season.
Edmonton tied the game up four minutes later on a major miscue by the Senators as Alfredsson collided with Chris Phillips during a breakout in front of the Ottawa net. Shawn Horcoff was there to get the puck and pass to Moreau for a point-blank goal on Sens goalie Martin Gerber.
Ottawa regained the lead four minutes into the second period as Alfredsson picked the top corner on a shot that Garon whiffed his glove at.
The game was knotted up again with six minutes left in the second as Horcoff picked up a rebound behind the net and set it in front for Reddox, who stuffed his second career NHL goal under Gerber.
The Senators took the lead for good when Lee scored with eight and a half minutes left in regulation.
Edmonton has a quick trip to Calgary to play on Wednesday night before returning home to start a five-game homestand. Ottawa continues its eight-game road trip in Toronto on Saturday.
Notes: The Oilers were without star forward Ales Hemsky, ailing since getting hit by Nashville's Jordan Tootoo in Edmonton's 5-2 win over Nashville on Sunday. Hemsky hurt his nose on the play, hasn't slept well since, is reportedly having breathing trouble and is doubtful for Wednesday's contest in Calgary as well The Senators had had their share of injury troubles of late, still missing a key pairing from their defensive corps as Anton Volchenhov (upper body) and Filip Kuba (groin) were still unable to dress Edmonton lost forward Marc Pouliot early in the second period, suffering a mild concussion on a hit from Nick Foligno It was Garon's first start for the Oilers since he was yanked in a 9-2 shelling by Chicago two weeks ago It was the 27th anniversary to the day that Wayne Gretzky scored five goals against Philadelphia in Edmonton to record 50 goals in just 39 games.