Home wreckers

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Senators were given a police escort to the Prudential Center last night -- and they managed to get away with a crime before they left.

In a third-period battle with Johnny Oduya behind the Devils' net, Antoine Vermette slashed the stick from the defenceman's hands, preventing him from clearing the puck.

Instead of getting called for a penalty, Vermette watched as the play continued with Chris Kelly being turned away on a wraparound and Shean Donovan swooping in to snap a shot behind Martin Brodeur.

The goal would stand as the winner in Ottawa's 4-1 victory over the Devils, spoiling their rival's home opener in their nice new building.

"I was just going for the puck," said Vermette. "I don't even remember (knocking Oduya's stick out)."

It was the second goal in as many games for Donovan, who didn't have any as a Senator before that.

"We have so much firepower on this team, but it's nice to score," said Donovan. "It's a long season and we need everyone to contribute."

Mike Fisher scored the insurance goal, his third of the season, at 13:34 of the third, and Martin Gerber was stellar in picking up his seventh victory of the season.

Gerber, who played solid throughout, wound up with 25 saves.

The win was the fourth in a row for the Senators, who now boast a 9-1 record and have no obvious flaws in their game.

Gerber was his usual self -- solid, if unspectacular -- in the first period.

OUTSHOT 18-5

The Senators were outshot 18-5 but he didn't have to make any saves of the outstanding variety. He questioned himself on one, looking over his shoulder after falling to his knees to stop a Brian Gionta effort, but he would not be beat.

"I thought we were sluggish at times and the ice had an effect on that," said coach John Paddock.

"But we grinded it out in the second. It wasn't a smooth game, we had to keep it simple and do the little things right. As the game went on, we did that better."

Andrej Meszaros and Gionta would each put one past the goal line as the teams headed to the second intermission tied.

Meszaros scored his second of the year not long after the Senators had killed off the game's first penalty, firing a shot from the point that at first appeared to go off Chris Neil's shaft as he battled in front with a New Jersey defenceman.

The lead would last about nine minutes, or just into the second penalty of the game.

Dany Heatley was again in the box when Gionta's pass in front banked in off the skate of Anton Volchenkov, who was gliding backwards and concentrating on his man like he was supposed to be doing.

The Senators did have a better second period as a team. They carried most of the play and outshot New Jersey 10-5.

Ottawa's fourth line of Christoph Schubert, Randy Robitaille and Donovan had a least four strong shifts in the first two periods, applying pressure and creating chances.

The Senators are now off until Thursday, when they host the Atlanta Thrashers at Scotiabank Place.


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