EDMONTON — Zack Smith had a goal and an assist as the Ottawa Senators ran their winning streak to four games, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Nick Paul, Alex Chiasson and Mark Stone, into an empty net, also scored for the Senators (29-26-6), who remain in contention for a wild-card spot and are hoping for a late surge into the post-season similar to the one they managed last year.
“We’ve done a good job of stringing some wins together here and we’re playing with a little more confidence,” Smith said. “To get one off the start of this road trip is huge. We need a big road trip to make a big push here at the end.”
Senators head coach Dave Cameron was glad to see scoring coming from throughout the roster.
“The last little while the big thing is that we’re getting some secondary scoring,” he said. “At this time of the year, with the schedule, you need to find different ways to win. Our secondary scoring has been good and I thought we were pretty consistent.”
Jordan Eberle replied for the Oilers (22-33-6), who have lost five in a row and are once again in last place in the NHL.
Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan was left questioning his team’s character and whether or not many of his players should be with the team past the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline.
“I have a huge concern because the spirit of the team isn’t where it needs to be,” McLellan said. “There has to be 10 guys in there that have so much pride that they pull the rest of the guys along. We’ll see what happens over the next six or seven days. Maybe there are some guys waiting for that. It’s got to get better or we need to make huge, huge changes.”
Defenceman Justin Schultz in particular drew some ire, finishing the game with a minus-three rating.
“He had a pretty disappointing night as an individual and it affected the team,” McLellan said.
The Senators got on the board first with seven minutes left in the first period when Paul scored his first career NHL goal in his fourth game, whacking a rebound past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who was starting his 11th game in the last 12. Talbot turned away 21-of-24 shots in defeat.
Ottawa went up by a pair of goals six minutes into the second period as Talbot got a piece of a one-timer from Smith on the power play, only to see it dribble into the net. It was Smith’s 15th goal of the season.
Edmonton finally got one past Senators starter Craig Anderson with 1:46 left in the second, as Eberle picked up a rebound on the doorstep and put home his 19th. Anderson finished the game with 31 saves.
Ottawa made it 3-1 early in the third period when Smith turned an Oilers turnover into a 2-on-1 and fed Chiasson for his second goal in the last three games and fifth game of the year.
Stone added an empty-net goal at 16:39 of the third.
Both teams return to action on Thursday. The Oilers head to L.A. to face the Kings and the Senators travel to Vancouver to play the Canucks.