It was an afternoon of firsts for the Ottawa Senators.
Namestnikov put away the winner 16:57 into the third and added an empty-netter with just seconds remaining as the Senators topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Saturday.
“It’s a long time you spend to get to this league and it’s hard, certainly, to win. We earned it tonight,” said Smith.
WATCH | Senators get a boost from Namestnikov:
It looked like Tampa Bay took a 3-2 lead just past the mid-way point of the third, but after a Brady Tkachuk penalty at 11:50 made it 4-on-4, a Nikita Kucherov goal was called back.
“It was back and forth in the third. It didn’t look good. We got a call overturned and we found a way to win,” said Smith. “It’s taken 16 years to get here as a coach. You didn’t foresee losing the first three as a coach but it is what it is and we got a win here tonight.”
Colin White and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored as the Senators (1-3-0) stopped their franchise-worst start to a season.
Ondrej Palat and Luke Witkowski replied for Tampa Bay (2-2-1), while Curtis McElhinney stopped 30 shots in net.
Namestnikov was drafted by the Lightning in 2011 and had notched only an assist in his Senators debut on Thursday after he was traded from the New York Rangers to Ottawa on Monday.
“It feels great,” said Namestnikov of the win. “Start was 0-3 but it was definitely important to get this win and [have] positive vibes and now we move forward.”
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said he was disappointed in his team Saturday.
The line of Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov — who combined for five goals and 11 points in the Lightning’s game against Toronto — were held scoreless by Ottawa.
“We were driving the play against Toronto and today Ottawa was driving the play against us,” he said. “It’s not up to our standard that’s for sure.”