ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The old adage says practice makes perfect. Ottawa Senators forwards Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur proved Tuesday night that the saying is still true.
The duo connected for the winning goal 13:06 into the game as the Senators earned a 3-0 win against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The victory capped a successful 3-0-1 road trip for the Senators in which they earned seven of a possible eight points.
The goal was a beauty. MacArthur stretched to stay onside at the blue line and exploded to the front of the Wild net. Turris, at the right half-wall, fired a laser onto MacArthur's tape and he tipped it in for his 16th of the season.
The play was an exact setup from the Senators' practice Monday -- except that a day earlier, Turris said, he didn't pass the puck.
"Just try that again tomorrow, I'll be looking for it," Turris said he was thinking during practice. "Right after [MacArthur] scored, he came over to me and said that was the play I didn't hit him on yesterday."
"He had me backside in practice but he turned up and made a play," MacArthur said. "It just so happened we had the exact same play again and he threaded the needle."
MacArthur's goal was all the offense Ottawa needed thanks to a solid effort from goaltender Robin Lehner, who made 27 saves for his first shutout since a 32-save, 1-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Feb. 28, 2012.
Lehner said his biggest challenge, especially early, was staying in the game. He saw just three shots in the first period in his first action in 20 days.
"It was mentally tough for me in the first period, I saw only one half-decent shot," Lehner said. "Just trying to stay mentally focused is tough."
Lehner was helped by a stingy defense that allowed 13 shots through 40 minutes.
"If the play's not there, we're not making it," Lehner said. "We're not forcing anything. The last six games I've watched from the bench too, we're playing simple, we're not forcing any plays, there's not as many turnovers, not as many dangerous chances."
The Senators (21-18-8) are bunched with seven other teams in the battle for the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoff race. Ottawa and the Detroit Red Wings have 50 points, one behind the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, who hold the two playoff positions. The Senators have at least one point in nine of their last 10 games.
"Our team has been playing better and better," coach Paul MacLean said. "We knew the potential was there to have a good road trip, and I thought the players put in a good, focused, concerted effort to find a way to win some games."
Despite a 15-3 edge in shots through 20 minutes, the Senators led only 1-0. Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, making his fourth NHL start this season, kept his team in the game with 14 stops in the first period and 22 through 40 minutes.
Wild coach Mike Yeo credited the Senators but also said his team never seemed to find a rhythm.
"We weren't on our toes," Yeo said. "We were getting beat to loose pucks to start the game, we weren't moving our feet. We were hesitant. Certainly, we need to start the next game better than that."
The Wild played marginally better in the second period and appeared poised to make a third-period push, putting four quick shots on Lehner to open the period. But a bad break almost six minutes into the third helped Ottawa put the game away.
Wild defenseman Marco Scandella attempted a one-timer at the point, but his stick snapped in two, allowing Erik Condra to go in alone on Kuemper. Despite having his right arm wrapped up by Scandella, Condra slipped the puck through the goaltender's five-hole at 5:55 for his fifth of the season.
Turris added his 13th of the season, scoring a power-play goal with 2:22 left.
Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson assisted on two of the Senators' three goals. His 33 assists are second among defenseman behind Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, who has 41.
The Senators return to Ottawa for a two-game homestand Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. A crucial Saturday afternoon game against the Rangers follows before Ottawa hits the road for another four-game trip.
Minnesota, which holds a four-point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, continues its three-game homestand Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers.
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