Sens Pen a winner
Aedan Helmer, QMI Agency
|March 24, 2012 - Ottawa Senators' Colin Greening (14) rings the puck off the post after beating Pittsburgh Penguins' Brad Thiessen (39) and Ben Lovejoy (6) during the first period of NHL action at Scotiabank Place Saturday, March 24, 2012. (DARREN BROWN/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - Look what a little offence can do.
Snakebitten shooters started hitting their targets, the slumbering power play finally woke up, even the penalty kill struck with a short-handed goal, as the Senators toppled the powerhouse Penguins 8-4 Saturday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
The win gave the Senators a bit of breathing room in an increasingly constricted Eastern Conference playoff race.
Riding a 13-0-1 streak into a sold-out (20,076 on hand) at Scotiabank Place, the Penguins’ quest for the East’s top seed will have to wait another day.
Daniel Alfredsson snapped a 12-game drought with a pair of goals — including a short-handed backbreaker late in the second period — and two assists, Kyle Turris netted his first in seven games, and Chris Phillips broke an 0-for-25 slump on the man advantage with a long-awaited power-play goal on a unit that hadn’t scored in eight games.
The eight-goal outburst was one shy of their entire offensive output of the previous six games.
For all of their well-documented struggles against the league’s lesser lights, the Senators took 3-of-4 games from the Penguins in the season series.
“We respect that team a lot and I think it brings that little bit extra out of you,” Alfredsson said of the Penguins. “We were hounding pucks, we were backchecking a lot and it paid off.”
The victory may have been a costly one, however, as Ben Bishop was lost midway through the second period with a lower-body injury. He didn’t return after a rough outing.
Coach Paul MacLean said Bishop will be re-evaluated Sunday morning.
Bishop had his helmet knocked clean off by teammate Colin Greening in the first, and dropped like a brick when Matt Cooke swept his feet out from under him to draw a goalie interference call, leading to Phillips’ power-play goal. He was finally pulled when he appeared to tweak his groin fending off James Neal and Kris Letang on a second-period power play.
Craig Anderson came on in relief and was immediately tested by Sidney Crosby.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about it,” said Anderson. “Just go in there, keep the mind out of it, and read and react.
“The guys did a great job of keeping things to the outside and allowing me to see the puck. The guys did the little things that helped the team win.”
Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek drew the tough assignment of matching up against Hart Trophy favourite Evgeni Malkin — who, along with James Neal and Chris Kunitz form the NHL’s hottest trio — and came out on the winning side of the duel.
“It was a good bounce back game after a (5-1 loss in Montreal) we weren’t too happy about,” said Spezza.
“We respect those guys and they’re obviously dangerous. If you give them chances they’re going to put it in the net. They scored some goals and we did a good job of making them cheat a bit and creating some opportunities that we don’t usually get. We played well with the lead, stuck with our plan and just tried to frustrate them.”