Sens get back on track

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Dominator was back and so were the Senators.

Sure, it's only a victory over the sad-sack Washington Capitals, but Ottawa's 3-1 win with Dominik Hasek making 23 saves took just about everything the Senators had in front of 10,007 at the MCI Center.

Not only did the Senators get a solid performance from Hasek and goals from a relieved Chris Phillips, rookie Patrick Eaves and Peter Schaefer, they also had to kill off four 5-on-3 man advantages -- two in the second and two in the third.

Back after missing Monday's ugly 8-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers with a sore back, Hasek made 21 saves before Matt Pettinger deflected home a shot from the point at 14:19 of the third to break the shutout attempt.

"We played a really strong defensive game," said Hasek. "The 5-on-3s were the key. We killed them off and that was important for our success."

With injured captain Daniel Alfredsson (cracked rib), centre Jason Spezza (chest) and Martin Havlat (shoulder surgery) all out of the lineup, Senators coach Bryan Murray talked to his club yesterday about playing good defence.

Murray isn't trying to shut down the offence, but after the loss in Atlanta the Senators had to clean up their act in their own end. The team can improve after going 0-for-8 on the power play and taking some penalties in the third.

"That was the way we had to play," said Murray. "We played well defensively and we didn't give them much. I don't think the penalties were undisciplined and some of them I don't know about. I think they were penalties because we were trying to do some things. I thought it was a good solid effort."

Phillips, the only Senators player who hadn't scored a goal this season, might have been the happiest man in the building at the end of the first. He scored his first goal since March 31, 2004, ending a 38-game scoring drought.

With the Senators being frustrated by Kolzig and not getting many good opportunities, Phillips fired the rebound of a Zdeno Chara shot into a wide open net at 19:08 to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

"The good thing is, I had the whole net to shoot at," said Phillips. "I was starting to wonder what it was going to take and I didn't like having that goose egg next to my name. If I had missed that one, I really would have had problems."

While this wasn't the Senators' best performance of the season, they did enough to get the job done. In the process, they kept flashy Capitals rookie Alexander Ovechkin off the scoreboard.

Perhaps the Senators' best stretch came during two separate back-to-back 5-on-3 power plays in the second and third. The Caps had almost two minutes with a two-man advantage in each of the periods and couldn't score.

"With the guys we're missing, that's the way we have to play," said Senators centre Mike Fisher. "We had to tighten up defensively and we really did a good job on the penalty kills. That was the difference in the game."

Eaves' sixth goal of the year, which gave the Senators a 2-0 lead, was enough to put this away. It came on a rebound at 12:57 of the second.

The Senators will face the Bruins tonight (7 p.m., A-Channel) at the TD BankNorth Garden.


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