Shelter from storm

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

NEW YORK -- As savage storms ravaged the East Coast and made their way here, the Senators found refuge in the eye of their own hurricane yesterday.

On a day when club owner Eugene Melnyk delivered a vote of confidence for his management team, the Senators prepared for tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils and took a little time to savour Wednesday's come-from-behind win over the NHL-leading Buffalo Sabres.

The win and Melnyk's intervention will ease for a few hours the talk of firings and rumours amid the club's 7-10-1 start, but only if they build on Wednesday's success tonight.

If the Senators don't match Wednesday's effort, the heat will be right back on and, look out, the Sabres are waiting in Ottawa for a return engagement tomorrow night.

TURNING POINT?

"It's only one game, we're aware of that, but it's a big relief. Especially the way we won," Senators forward Antoine Vermette said of the third-period rally. " Too many times we've seen the opposite going against us.

"It was great against a team that's having a lot of success this year. It's one game that we hope is going to be a turning point in the season."

Backed by a strong performance from goaltender Ray Emery, back in the net after missing four games with a sore forearm, the win marked the first time in eight tries this season that the Senators came back to win a game they were trailing entering the third period.

"They did what we asked them to do in the third. They battled hard. They hung in. They killed a penalty at the end," said coach Bryan Murray. "Ray made a couple of big stops for us, but now we have to put it together. You just can't take that as a single game and be satisfied for another week. You've got to go out and continue to play hard. I know they understand that."

Despite being less than 100%, Emery battled on as he played in place of struggling Martin Gerber.

"I think I'll go back to Ray (tonight)," said Murray, slyly.

Emery said he didn't suffer any setbacks in the game.

"The end result was what we wanted," he said. "That's all that really matters. I just wanted to play solid and not make too many mistakes and I felt I did that. Now we want to build off (the win)."

Though he entered this season as the backup to Gerber, who was a showcase free-agent signing, the door is now clearly open for Emery to make this his job.

The second-year goalie has benefited from last season's experience, taking over for Dominik Hasek after the Olympic disaster and getting to play in the post-season.

EMERY 'FOCUSED'

"There were some things that we wished he had experience for in the playoffs last year,'' said Murray, ''but I think it helped him. He looks like he's really focused ... he looks like a big, quick goaltender in the net right now.

"He's growing up. All young people go through stages. Ray appears to me prepared now as a professional to be the guy that's going to improve as much as anybody on our hockey team. He has that chance. Goaltending is the hardest position and it's also the one that takes step by step."

Vermette said he doesn't change his approach depending on who is in net.

"Sometimes, when you make a little change in the team, things happen like that,'' he said. "You can't forget Ray is having a great year, too. If you look at his stats, they're pretty impressive."

And the Senators aren't, so Emery will play on.


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