The steps are still small, but they are definitely more sure. The Senators won back-to-back games for the first time in a month last night with their 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild and shed an unwanted adjective at least for one day.
You can't call them the last-place Senators today.
Their record remains an unimpressive 9-11-1, but their 19 points are one more than the Boston Bruins, who fell to the bottom rung in the Northeast Division after their loss last night to the Florida Panthers (though the B's do have three games in hand).
The Senators, who jumped into a 4-0 lead before Pascal Dupuis scored for the Wild, depart today for a week-long, four-game road trip on an upswing. They are moving forward with a chance to match their longest winning streak of the season tomorrow in Philadelphia.
"We got off to a quick start," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "I think we scored on two of our first three shots and that helps, especially at home because it got the crowd into it.
"We were a little on our heels in the second and third periods, but we pulled it off. It's nice to see us get rewarded for our hard work."
The Senators got goals from Andrej Meszaros, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil and captain Daniel Alfredsson.
Peter Schaefer scored on the power play with 1:29 left in the game to give the Sens a 5-2 lead and Mikko Koivu's shorthanded goal made it 5-3 with 13 seconds left.
The frenzy and tension that surrounded the team a week ago has largely dissipated. The Senators look now much more now like the team many expected to be a contender in the East.
It starts in the net with Ray Emery, whose return from a wrist injury has coincided with the club's resurgence.
"Ray has been playing well," said Murray. "He was a huge difference and made some big saves. The goaltender is the prime guy. If he makes you comfortable, then you can play your game."
He was the victim on a third-period penalty shot by Minnesota captain Brian Rolston, who made a nice move to Emery's left and slipped the puck behind him.
The Senators' win spoiled the homecoming of Wild players Todd White of Kanata and Kurtis Foster, who had about 100 friends and family at the game from Carp.