RALEIGH - Craig Anderson held the Senators in the game early, then won it for them late Tuesday at RBC Center.
In between, the young Senators learned a lesson: To beat the Hurricanes, they discovered, it’s imperative to play a full 60 minutes.
A 3-2 shootout decision gave the Senators their third win a row, and, for the early-season standing-gazers, moved them past Boston into third place in the Northeast Division with a 4-5-0 record.
“It’s a 60- or 65-minute game in this league every night,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean. “We have to make sure we play the whole game. We just had to keep our wits about us.”
The Senators were sailing smoothly until the final five minutes of the third period, when all of a sudden their 2-0 lead evaporated into thin air.
The letup started when Sergei Gonchar, who had two assists, watched as the puck came off the boards in front to Tuomo Ruutu, who broke Anderson’s shutout 4:52 from the end of the third.
Gonchar said there was lack of communication between him, Jared Cowen and Anderson.
“Three of us were thinking one of us was going to get it,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s a goal.”
A David Rundblad penalty later, Jeff Skinner tied the game with 2:31 left in regulation.
In the shootout, Anderson stopped Skinner and Jussi Jokinen, while Cam Ward stopped Milan Michalek but couldn’t handle Jason Spezza, who beat him with a shot between the legs.
Anderson, who is now 6-for-6 in shootouts, won it with a stop off Ruutu.
Spezza acknowledged the dressed-up Senators fans in attendance who were making a lot of noise before the game started.
“We could hear them from in here,” he said. “We deserved to win. We probably should have won it in regulation. At the end of the day, it’s about getting results.”
The Senators had built the lead on the strength of Zenon Konopka’s first goal for an Ottawa team in 10 years, and his first shot on goal as a Senator.
The second-period marker, off a well-placed snapshot after a pass from Gonchar, allowed the former 67’s captain to break a scoreless draw.
“I guess I have to start shooting more often,” said Konopka. “I had 32 text messages waiting for me after the game. I guess I don’t score that often in this league.”
Ottawa’s surprisingly efficient power play clicked again, converting its only chance to improve its record to 3-for-3 in the last two games.
Less than halfway into a power play, Gonchar put a shot at the net and into the commotion being caused by Colin Greening. From there, the puck slid sideways along the line, where an opportunistic Spezza stepped up to tip it in.
It was the 12th point of the season for Spezza, who has eight in his last four games.