OTTAWA — Once again, the Ottawa Senators got off to a hot start but came up short.
Ottawa was outshooting the Minnesota Wild 12-2 midway through the first period but a shoddy second proved the Senators’ undoing in a 4-3 loss on Saturday afternoon. Ottawa has now dropped seven straight.
"In the second we got away from what we were doing that made us successful," said Matt Duchene, who scored his 17th of the season. "We weren’t playing bad, but we weren’t playing the way we were and they get three goals and obviously two of them are kind of fluky, but that’s just the way it’s going right now."
Ryan Dzingel and Mark Stone each chipped in a goal for the Senators (15-22-5), who are right back in action Sunday afternoon as they host the Carolina Hurricanes (18-17-5).
The good news for Ottawa is Sunday’s game marks the return of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who will make his season debut after suffering a torn Achilles on the first day of training camp.
Anders Nilsson made 22 saves in his Ottawa debut after being acquired Wednesday from the Vancouver Canucks.
"It’s always good to get the first game, but obviously I would have hoped for a better result," said Nilsson. "There’s nothing I can do about it now, it’s just turn the page and it’s a new day tomorrow and a new game."
Jared Spurgeon scored twice to lead the Wild. Jordan Greenway and Zach Parise also scored for Minnesota (20-17-3), who played their second of a four-game road trip. Devan Dubnyk stopped 24 shots.
"I thought we were really bad in the first period and Dubnyk kept us in," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "It was almost totally opposite of the Toronto game where he had a rough start and the team played really well. If he hadn’t played as well as he had we probably would have been down three by the ten-minute mark I figure. Once we got our skating legs we started to go a little better."
This loss left the Senators sitting dead last in the league with little reason for optimism, but Duchene says by no means are players ready to give up.
"Sometimes it takes something extraordinary to get out of a skid like this. We’re going to keep pushing; we’re not packing it in. There’s lots of hockey left to be played and hopefully we can work our way out and things will start bouncing a little bit more, but it’s tough right now."
The Wild took a 4-2 lead early in the third as Parise jumped on a rebound, but Ottawa made it a one-goal game on Stone’s 20th of the season as he tipped a Cody Ceci shot.
Ottawa had a two-man advantage for the last 26 seconds of the game, but were unable to capitalize.
Trailing 1-0 Spurgeon tied the game just 41 seconds into the second for the Wild as he took a drop pass from Luke Kunin and went on to beat Nilsson off his backhand.
Ottawa regained the lead at the eight-minute mark on Dzingel’s 16th, but the Wild tied it back up minutes later as Greenway was left all alone in front and jammed home a puck under Nilsson.
Minnesota took the lead late in the period as Spurgeon scored his second from a sharp angle.
"I just fired it," said Spurgeon of scoring his second. "I just tried to put it on net and I think (Parise) was already in front of the net so worse case there’s a rebound for him, but I think it just trickled over his pad."
Ottawa finally beat Dubnyk in the final minute of the period. Duchene stepped out of the penalty box, took a pass from Zack Smith and muscled his way through the Wild defence before getting around Dubnyk for an empty net.
Notes: Nick Paul was a healthy scratch for the Senators. Christian Jaros returned to the lineup after missing three games with a broken finger. Rudolfs Balcers, acquired as part of the Erik Karlsson trade, made his NHL debut Saturday afternoon. Minnesota’s J.T Brown and Nate Prosser were healthy scratches.