ST. PAUL, MINN. -- You gotta have heart.
The Senators showed that and more on Valentine's Day.
Down 3-0 when goaltender Brian Elliott skated to the bench only 13:13 into the first period, the Senators mounted their biggest comeback of the season to score a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild in front of a stunned crowd of 18,568 at the Xcel Energy Center.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who had a two-point night, scored the winner at 2:29 of the third period with the club short-handed, while Dany Heatley, Chris Phillips, Antoine Vermette and Brian Lee chipped in goals for the Senators, who extended their unbeaten streak to four games.
Goaltender Alex Auld, who made 17 saves in relief of Elliott, picked up his first victory since a 3-2 win over the Penguins on Dec. 6.
It was the first time in Wild history the club has lost a home game when holding a 3-0 lead, and the Senators did it with two short-handed goals.
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Down 3-0 after 20 minutes, coach Cory Clouston faced a huge challenge after Elliott was pulled and Auld took over. But Auld stood tall and the Senators' comeback was complete with three goals in a span of 6:12 in the second.
Part of Clouston's tactic was to change all the lines so Wild coach Jacques Lemaire couldn't play his matchup game. Alfredsson was all over the map, but played mostly with Nick Foligno and Mike Fisher. Ryan Shannon was on a line with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza part of the night.
Phillips tied it up with a short-handed marker with only 59 seconds left in the second period. It was his fifth of the season and the 50th of his career, and Phillips looked like a goal scorer as he took a pass from Alfredsson, shifted the puck from his forehand to his backhand to beat Wild goal Niklas Backstrom on the glove side.
Vermette had narrowed the gap to one at 16:34 when Kelly threw the puck into the slot. Lee, a native of Moorhead, Minn., got the ball rolling with a power-play goal at 12:39 of the second. It was his second goal of the season and his first in 18 games.
Backstrom, who gave up three goals on 18 shots, was yanked for the third period in favour of Josh Harding.
Elliott gave up his three goals on 12 shots before he was pulled.
It was supposed to be a homecoming of sorts for Elliott, who played at the nearby University of Wisconsin, but it turned out to be a nightmare as he gave up a goal on the first shot he faced and didn't look comfortable even when he made saves.
Own Nolan's second of of the first period was all Clouston could take. All Nolan had to do was go to the net, take a pass from James Sheppard and direct it home, stick side. Nolan's first came on the power play at 9:11 to make it 2-0 when he tipped a shot from the point home.
Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard open the scoring with a shot from the slot that beat Elliott high at only 1:15 of the first and the Senators were back on their heels.
But Lemaire warned Ottawa had changed.
"Since they got the new coach you can tell that team works harder," said Lemaire. "It's very obvious when you look at the games prior to the change. Their top players are playing well. They're not at their best. This will only get better."
The Senators proved that last night with a ton of heart.