Two and two-rrific

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

It was interesting to note last night that when Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson returned to spark his club, he passed the puck from the corner to defenceman Zdeno Chara.

Smart guy, that Alfredsson. That pass led to the Senators' first goal last night, just 91 seconds into Ottawa's 7-2 win over the Wayne Gretzky-coached Phoenix Coyotes at the Corel Centre.

Alfredsson, proving again his importance as the catalyst of this Senators team, was back in the lineup after missing the last four games with a cracked rib. He picked that up when Chara's heavy shot dinged him in the side while cutting in front of the net a week ago Friday. Dangerous place, that front of the net.

He did jump in front of the net at one point when Chara had the puck.

"I felt pretty good," said Alfredsson. "I got bumped a few times and that gave me confidence. I was able to go into the corners not feeling afraid. It's good to know for the next game."

Pretty good? Alfredsson wound up with two goals and two assists and he helped snap the power play out of an 0-for-24 funk.

The power play went 3-for-9 in front of 19,773 patrons last night as the Senators hit the half-way point of their season with 29 wins.

Alfredsson's two goals give him 27 on the year. He's an MVP candidate because he contributes such important minutes in all phases of the game for the Senators.

"He demands that people cover him," said Senators coach Bryan Murray, "and he makes plays off of that. He brings a whole new dimension to our power play that we didn't have last week."

"He looked a little rusty," joked Senators forward Mike Fisher, who had a goal and an assist. "What did he have? Two and two? That's a pretty good return.

"He plays with so much poise and confidence, it helps the rest of us relax. He slows things down and it seems to rub off on the other lines."

The Senators also got goals from Dany Heatley, Chara, Chris Neil and rookie Patrick Eaves.

The Coyotes, who have now lost four straight (equalling their longest losing streak of the season), did a horrific job of clearing the puck in their zone.

"It was a 2-1 game and we gave them the puck three times. Those three turnovers were the difference in the game. But we didn't quit," said Gretzky, who left after the game for Brantford, where he will attend the funeral for his grandmother today.

The Senators host the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night.


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