The Senators returned home from a nine-day trip to the U.S. with something important to declare — the five points from three games that keep them alive and well in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

A 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center actually gave them three wins and an overtime loss since they last played in Ottawa, a stretch that started with an overtime win in Montreal which was followed by a day’s stopover at home before they headed to Colorado, Nashville and St. Paul.

It also improved their record to 6-0-1 in their last seven.

"Our team has been playing better and the potential was there for us to have success on this road trip," said coach Paul MacLean.

"I thought the players have really put in a good, focused, concerted effort to find a way to win some games. They get full marks for it. "But all they've done now is set the table to keep doing it."

The victory over the Wild left the Senators with a 21-18-8 mark and 50 points, which is just one back of the Toronto Maple Leafs, holders of the last wild card spot.

Leading up to the game, some wondered how coach Paul MacLean could stray from his winning formula by sitting No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, who was on a 6-0-2 run that ranked among the best of his career.

Robin Lehner laid to rest any questions by making 27 saves for his first win in a month and the second shutout of Lehner’s now 45-game career.

The Senators established control early by outshooting the Wild 15-3 in the opening 20 minutes.

"We had a really good game," said Lehner. "It was kind of mentally tough in the first period for me. They had one half decent shot."

Lehner was playing for the first time since giving up five goals in a Dec. 27 loss to Boston, and the second time since losing 5-2 to the Devils on Dec. 18.

Once again, the Senators discipline was key. They only allowed the Wild three power plays on the night, which is the same number they gave up the first two games of the trip.

"It's a lot easier on people like (Jason) Spezza, Turris, MacArthur, guys who play big minutes, they're killing penalties and it wears on them too," said Zack Smith.

"It translates directly to more offence."

While giving Lehner credit for playing a "great game" after sitting so long, Smith acknowledged the Senators are playing smarter defensively these days.