Try as they might, the Senators couldn't quite give away two points last night.
The Senators looked like they were going to cruise to an easy victory after pulling out to a 5-0 lead after two periods against the Thrashers, but they had to hang on for dear life in a 6-4 victory in front of 18,538 fans at Scotiabank Place.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored three times in the third period -- including two on the power play with Chris Neil off for a double-minor for roughing -- and Eric Perrin added the other as the Thrashers nearly embarrassed the Senators.
Had it not been for captain Daniel Alfedsson, who led the charge with a four-point night (including the 300th goal of his career into an empty net) Atlanta may very well have pulled of the feat.
Centre Randy Robitaille, who took Spezza's place on the top line with Alfredsson and winger Dany Heatley (two assists), had a two-goal night, while Patrick Eaves and Nick Foligno each chipped with their second goal of the season as the Senators opened a stretch of six games in 10 days.
While Robitaille was the recipient of a couple of nice feeds from Alfredsson, the Ottawa native's stay in Spezza's neighbourhood was short-lived after he left with 12:26 in the second period as a result of getting nailed by Atlanta's Garnet Exelby. Robitaille suffered what the club described as "facial contusions" and didn't return.
Even without Spezza and his replacement Robitaille for the final 30 minutes, the Senators didn't miss a beat unitl the third period, but they upped their record to 10-1 --including the club's sixth victory in seven home games.
Until Kovalchuk recorded his hat trick, goaltender Ray Emery, making only his second start of the season, hardly broke a sweat. The Thrashers only had six shots through the first two periods.
The Senators didn't just take care of business in the first 40 minutes, they shut down the Thrashers completely. It didn't take long for Atlanta coach and GM Don Waddell, who fired Bob Hartley a couple of weeks ago, to understand what it felt like as Ottawa put the Thrashers in their place.
If anybody was worried that the Senators might take the Thrashers lightly, there were no concerns. Alfredsson's eight goal of the season at 19:12 of the second gave the club a 5-0 lead going into the third.
Waddell was so frustrated with Atlanta goalie Johan Hedberg's performance, he was given the hook after Foligno scored his second of the season through the legs at 12:01 of the second.
Hedberg can't do much when a veteran like Bobby Holik simply hands the puck over to Foligno, but the club's top netminder had to get out of the net in favour of Ondrej Pavelec before the Senators completely ruined his shattered confidence.
It was Eaves, who is expected to step up and contribute more with the injury to Spezza, who gave the club a 3-0 lead when he fired a shot that beat Hedberg stick side.
Robitaille had scored twice before he had to be helped off the ice. He took a pass from Alfredsson and fired it into open net at 1:26 of the second. The opening goal of the night came only 1:48 into the first on the second shot that Hedberg faced when Robitaille beat him low on the glove side.
The Senators open a home-and-home series against the Bruins tomorrow night at Scotiabank Place.