Now that the Senators have played themselves back into contention, the hard work really begins.
Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist, Robin Lehner made 27 saves for his second career shutout and Ottawa beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Clarke MacArthur and Erik Condra also scored for the Senators, who head home after earning seven of a possible eight points on their four-game road trip.
"All we've done now is set the table to keep doing it," said coach Paul MacLean, whose team has bounced back after winning only four times in its first 12 games. "Our team had been playing better and better as December rolled on, so the potential was there for us to have success on this road trip."
'All we've done now is set the table to keep doing it. Our team had been playing better and better as December rolled on, so the potential was there for us to have success on this road trip.' - Senators coach Paul MacLean
Despite controlling play and outshooting the Wild 15-3 in the first period, Ottawa led only 1-0 on MacArthur's 16th of the season.
With the Wild hanging around thanks to another strong effort from goalie Darcy Kuemper (29 saves), Condra won a race with Marco Scandella to a puck in front of the net and made it 2-0 at 5:55 of the third.
Turris scored on the power play at 17:38 of the third to put the game away.
"Tough start. Our first period wasn't good enough," Wild forward Jason Pominville said. "We were better in the second, but unfortunately gave up the first goal. It's tough to come back when you give up the first goal."
Playing recently without forwards Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise and top goalie Josh Harding, the Wild had won five of their last six, scoring 21 goals during that span. But scoring opportunities were tough to come by against Ottawa, which is a much better defensive team on the road than at home.
When the Wild did get scoring chances, Lehner turned them away. Making his first start since losing 5-0 to Boston on Dec. 27, Lehner notched his first shutout since Feb. 28, 2012, against Boston.
'Kind of tough'
"It was kind of tough in the beginning. I tried to stay focused, and didn't want to spin off in my head there," Lehner said. "It feels good to come back and get a win."
Lehner's play picked up right where regular goalie Craig Anderson left off. Anderson is 6-0-2 over his last eight starts.
MacArthur's goal was his fifth in six games and it came after he redirected a centring pass from Turris into the net. Wild coach Mike Yeo wanted offside called on the play, and yelled at the officials from the bench as the teams lined up for the ensuing faceoff.
"The bottom line is, when you're more engaged in the game, when you're on top of your game, things like that don't beat you," Yeo said. "We weren't good enough to win this hockey game tonight."
Kuemper was coming off his first career shutout on Sunday and has stopped 91 of 95 shots since being recalled from Iowa of the AHL on Jan. 2.
It was the second time Minnesota was shut out this season and the third time Ottawa has blanked an opponent.
"We knew that we were going to have to get on a run just to get back into the [playoff] picture, so now we can't let up," Turris said. "We need to keep going. There are five or six teams trying to get into that last spot."