COLUMBUS - Relax Craig Anderson. The Senators goaltending, as expected, is in good hands.
Robin Lehner’s first victory of the season rescued the Senators from falling further behind the pack of Eastern Conference leaders Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.
With Anderson back in Ottawa recovering from a neck injury, Lehner stepped in to make 32 stops in the Senators 4-1 defeat of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
His performance was the key as the Senators winless streak was snapped at five games and their record improved to 5-6-4.
Erik Karlsson led Ottawa with two goals while Clarke MacArthur and Chris Neil had the others.
The game featured four fights: Matt Kassian dropped the gloves with Jared Boll in the first; Mark Borowiecki got the best of Derek MacKenzie, who was objecting to the rough ride he was given into the end boards by the Senators rookie blue liner in the second; and Neil fought both Boll, and after his insurance marker, Dalton Prout in the third.
Karlsson was in the box when R.J. Umberger scored on a spinaround shot from the slot to end Lehner’s shutout bid at 3:02 of the third. Chris Phillips also felt bad about that one, as he was unable to clear the puck when he had the chance.
Neil restored the Senators two goal lead at 13:55 of the third when he took a pass from Jason Spezza and fired a wrist shot that beat Curtis McElhinney high on the stick side. The helper was the 400th of Spezza’s career.
Karlsson salted the victory with an empty netter 18 seconds from the final buzzer.
McElhinney faced just 24 Senators shots.
Lehner made a number of big saves as Ottawa trailed 26-17 on the shots clock but took a 2-0 lead in the third.
He was also a little lucky.
After performing some acrobatics to keep the puck out of the net during a first period Columbus power play, Lehner saw a point blast from James Wisniewski elude his catching mitt and graze off the post. In the second, he was down and out when Marian Gaborik cut through the crease and fire a shot wide of the open top half of the net.
MacArthur’s second goal of the season was a big one, as it came with just 3.9 seconds left in the opening period and gave the Senators some much needed breathing room. The other two members of Ottawa’s new first line each earned a point on the play, which saw Kyle Turris slap a shot from the slot wide and Bobby Ryan fetch the rebound to put on the blade of MacArthur, who was parked at the edge of the crease.
Karlsson had notched his fifth a little more than five minutes earlier, scoring with a wrist shot from the right wing faceoff circle that went over Curtis McElhinney’s left shoulder.
McElhinney did keep his team within two with a big left pad skate off Cory Conacher in the second.