SUN Hockey Pool

New lines strike Oil

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Senators 5, Oilers 3

The Senators unveiled a new look last night at Rexall Place.

And, it worked.

In an attempt to ignite his offence, Senators coach Bryan Murray changed his line combinations and the result was a 5-3 victory over Edmonton in front of 16,839.

Rugged winger Vaclav Varada, while playing alongside Mike Fisher, scored twice to end a long drought and Dominik Hasek came through with another solid performance to lead the Senators.

Peter Schaefer, who found himself playing with captain Daniel Alfredsson and Bryan Smolinski, also scored. And Dany Heatley, who lined up with Chris Kelly and Patrick Eaves, contributed with his 28th goal of the season.

Only the fourth line of Christoph Schubert, Brian McGrattan and Antoine Vermette stayed in place.

"They're going to have (Chris) Pronger and (Michael) Peca out there all night trying to match up against guys," said Murray following the morning skate.

"You just try to spread things up a little bit. Psychology says you have to do that once in awhile."

That's part of the reason Murray also moved players around throughout the game.

Oilers defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron had a three-point night -- including two goals -- but Edmonton wasn't able to take advantage of some bad penalties by the Senators in the third.

The second period made all the difference for the Senators. Helped by some undisciplined play by the Oilers, the club scored three times and chased starter Ty Conklin after he allowed four goals on 16 shots.

After Conklin allowed Schaefer to give Ottawa a 4-2 lead with an easy goal on a bounce off the back boards at 11:52 of the second, Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish decided he'd seen enough and brought in Jussi Markannen.

The Senators, who were in control of the game at that point, decided they needed to make things interesting.

Edmonton's Ryan Smyth scored his 20th goal of the season by deflecting a shot by Hasek at 14:18.

But the Senators had some different players step up for them. McGrattan made a good play down low to set up Vermette in front and he beat Conklin with a good shot on the stick side to give Ottawa a 3-2 lead at 10:23.

The Senators had a golden opportunity to open the second. On the power play and with Hasek out of the net for a delayed penalty, Heatley scored the club's first power-play goal on the road since Dec. 23, firing a shot by Conklin at 1:08.

Unfortunately, the Senators weren't able to take advantage of a high-sticking major to Bergeron, who forced Alfredsson to go to the room for stitches and gave the Senators a subsequent two-minute 5-on-3, which could have put the Oilers away in this one.

Getting a chance to play with Fisher and Neil, Varada opened the scoring with his third goal of the season and his first since Dec. 5.

A perfect pass from Fisher with Varada heading to the net gave the Senators a 1-0 lead at 2:18 of the first. That lasted until Bergeron scored at 8:09 and 12:24 to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

"You know they've got a talented team and they play more of a Western Conference style of game," said MacTavish.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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