The Carolina Hurricanes won't play another home game until the middle of February, going on the road for the next six games.
But the Canes left town off a rock-solid victory. With Dan Ellis making 33 saves in goal, the Canes topped the Ottawa Senators 1-0 at PNC Arena.
The Sens (5-2-1) came into the game leading the NHL's Eastern Conference, and with goalie Craig Anderson being named the NHL's first star for the month of January. But Ellis bettered Anderson this night, notching his second win of the season, his 13th career shutout and making Eric Staal's first-period goal stand up.
The Canes (3-3) open their road swing Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Cam Ward was expected to start in goal for Carolina, although Canes coach Kirk Muller may opt to stick with the hot hand and go with Ellis again.
"He looks very confident," Muller said of Ellis. "He's had a lot of games this year to prepare and it's an opportunity for him. Like any athlete in pro sports, when you get the opportunity you have to take advantage of it."
Alexander Semin and Eric Staal found a way to get the puck past Sens goalie Craig Anderson and the Canes lead 1-0 after two periods at PNC Arena.
Anderson, who finished with 34 saves, made some strong stops early in the game. In one torrid sequence, the Canes maintained possession in the offensive zone and put six shots on goal, two by Semin.
But late in the first period, Semin carried the puck down the left wing, wheeled back to the top of the slot, maneuvered around defenseman Erik Karlsson and fired a shot. Eric Staal, in the low slot, got a piece of the puck and redirected it past Anderson with 4:15 left in the period.
"It found its way through," Staal said.
It was Staal's fifth goal of the season, extending his point streak to four games. It was Semin's fourth assist of the season, and defenseman Joe Corvo also had a helper for his first point of the season.
The Canes came within inches of making it 2-0 in the second. Jeff Skinner got off a shot in close, the puck hitting the crossbar but not crossing the goal line, even as the horn sounded.
Moments later, Canes defenseman Jamie McBain highsticked the Sens' Chris Neil, who was bloodied. But the Canes killed off the double minor, building some momentum, and killed off a late hooking penalty against Eric Staal in the second.
The Sens, sixth in the NHL on the power play, were 0-4 in the game as the Canes' penalty killers got the job done. Muller used 13 different players shorthanded, keeping fresh bodies on the game.
"I thought the game was much like I thought it would be -- a fast game," Sens coach Paul MacLean said. "We went up and down the rink and both teams skated and they got one and we got none.
"I thought both goalies played well. I thought Ellis was good (but) we were outside too much and our energy level wasn't as good. You're playing a team that it's been three days since they've played. They're going to run into that in their schedule, as well."
Anderson came into the game with a 5-0-1 record, allowing 0.99 goals per game and with a .967 save percentage that was the best in the NHL. He faced 15 shots in the opening period and 24 through two periods.
Dan Ellis, starting in goal for the Canes, faced 12 shots in the first period and 13 in the second. He made several glove saves and stopped a heavy shot by Milan Michalek with a little less than eight minutes left in the first period.
Semin made plays all over the ice in the first. On the Canes' power play in the opening period, he broke up a two-on-one shorthanded rush by the Sens.
Staal's goal was just the second scored by the Canes in first-period play this season. It also was the first time the Canes had led after the opening period.
The Sens are playing without center Jason Spezza, who is out at least two months after undergoing back surgery Friday.