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Senators top Jets 4-1 in season opener

AP - Sports
Senators top Jets 4-1 in season opener
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Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little (18) watches as teammate Dustin Byfuglien's shot flies past Ottawa Senators' …

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) -- Paul MacLean was happy with the win - even if the Ottawa Senators weren't exactly picture-perfect getting it.

Erik Karlsson had a goal and two assists as the Senators spoiled the Winnipeg Jets' home opener with a 4-1 victory Saturday.

''I thought the game was played a little bit like a dog's breakfast ... in the first and second period,'' MacLean said. ''And the third period, I thought we were able to get control of the game a little bit and establish a little bit more of our game.''

Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris and Chris Neil scored Ottawa's other goals.

Dustin Byfuglien scored for the Jets. Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots for the Senators, while the Jets' Ondrej Pavelec faced 37 shots in front of a sellout crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.

''I think I didn't play really well today, didn't feel really good out there, but obviously it feels nice to contribute something,'' Karlsson said. ''Getting the goal on the power play there is going to be good for us and hopefully we can build on this.''

Karlsson sensed some players were a bit nervous before their first game back from the NHL lockout, but they started with a strong effort.

''I think the pace slowed down a little bit and it probably wasn't the best-played game from anyone,'' he said, ''but we've just got to continue here and try to get the feeling back as quick as possible.''

He also couldn't help but notice the loud crowd early on. Winnipeg fans gained a reputation of being one of the loudest crowds in the league last season as they welcomed back an NHL squad after a 15-year absence. Games are sold out for three years and a waiting list is capped at 8,000.

The Jets went 23-13-5 on home ice and finished 37-35-10 for 84 points overall.

Fans had something to cheer about early in the second season's debut as the Jets took advantage of Ottawa's first penalty, a boarding call on Neil for sending Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart into the boards near the Jets' net.

Thirty seconds later, Byfuglien one-timed a pass from Tobias Enstrom and sent the puck past Anderson at 6:00 of the first period for the 1-0 lead.

Jets coach Claude Noel said some players showed rust from not playing during the lockout, but Byfuglien wasn't one of them.

''I thought Buff was responsible, I thought he tried to make a difference in the game,'' Noel said. ''I thought that he played a more balanced game. I thought he used his weight to his advantage, knocking people off the puck and was dangerous. So I thought he was probably our best player.''

Despite the loss, Byfuglien feels his team got off to a good start.

''We had things going our way and did the simple things and kept the pace up pretty well,'' he said. ''We quit getting the bounces in the second and third and let them get ahead. At times, I felt it was sloppy. It's something where we're going to have to keep working and playing as a group. It's only one game.''

Michalek evened things up with 3:58 left in the opening period after Jets defenseman Paul Postma botched a clearing attempt. The puck went to Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch at the point, who sent it toward the net for Michalek to poke it between Pavelec's legs.

Neil gave Ottawa the go-ahead goal with 2:58 left in the second period after the Jets couldn't clear a loose puck in their crease.

Karlsson got his team's power-play goal after Jets captain Andrew Ladd was in the penalty box for slashing. Last year's Norris Trophy winner blasted a shot from the point past a screened Pavelec a minute into the man advantage that began at 11:15.

Turris stretched the lead to 4-1 when he went down the right wing and beat Pavelec on the stick side at 17:50.

The Sens outshot the Jets 37-28. The Jets finished 1 for 6 with the man advantage and Ottawa, was 1 for 2.

''The only thing we did was take too many penalties and I think that's part of not having the full training camp,'' MacLean said.

Note: Daniel Alfredsson is the longest-serving captain in NHL, entering his 13 consecutive season wearing the C for the Senators.

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