Alfie's back in line

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Reunited and it feels so good

Reunited 'cause we understood

There's one perfect fit

And, sugar, this one is it

We both are so excited

'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey

-- Peaches and Herb, 1979

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They finished 1-2-3 in Senators scoring last season, combining for 296 points when the fourth on the list had only 50.

And now, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson are going to have the chance to do it all again.

After a couple of home losses that saw his team score just three goals -- and with stud goalie Miikka Kiprusoff leading a band of tight-checking Calgary Flames into town this week -- Senators coach Bryan Murray officially reunited his best offensive players at yesterday's practice.

"When you put the three guys together on a big line, it becomes a big line," said Murray, who succumbed to the temptation late in the third period of Saturday's loss to Buffalo -- and saw Heatley and Alfredsson set up Spezza for two goals 84 seconds apart in a comeback bid that fell just short. "I'd be not very wise if I didn't try to do it again for a little bit.

"Hopefully they want to stick together and work together accordingly," added Murray. "This leaves us a little light (elsewhere) scoring goals ... but it wasn't happening anyway."

The fallout most affects Patrick Eaves, if only for the time being. Eaves, a 20-goal scorer who started his sophomore season as the left winger for Spezza and Heatley, was one of four forwards wearing fourth-line yellow jerseys yesterday, along with Chris Kelly, Brian McGrattan and Alexei Kaigorodov.

Murray wouldn't say whether he plans on giving the offensively skilled Kaigorodov his first NHL action Thursday -- which would make perfect sense except for the fact it would likely come at the expense of McGrattan and Ottawa would seem to need its tough guy against a tough Flames lineup.

Murray also softened the landing for Eaves, who along with defenceman Andrej Meszaros, is a team-worst minus-3.

"I think Patrick has played real hard and well," said Murray. "He's a competitive guy. We'll find a spot for him on a regular basis soon."

Promoted to Alfredsson's right-wing, second-line spot is Antoine Vermette, who played the first three games on the third line's left side with Dean McAmmond and Chris Neil.

The combination of Vermette, Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer will have plenty of speed, if not yet a proven finisher. The biggest challenge will be presented to Vermette -- a natural centre who has never before played regularly on his off-wing.

"It shouldn't be too hard to adjust ... it shouldn't be a big problem," shrugged Vermette, who will have to get used to taking breakout passes from the defensive zone on his backhand. "It's a good opportunity. I can use my speed a little more. It should be interesting."

Also getting bumped up in the order yesterday was the Senators' other francophone. Denis Hamel, who made the team as the fourth-line left winger, is now with McAmmond and Neil.

Meanwhile, the big line will try to recreate some magic.

"We know how to play together, obviously," said Alfredsson. "It worked well last game. Hopefully we can keep it going."

Spezza said getting Alfredsson back on his line "can be a good thing."

"Alfie plays like us," he said, referring to the creativity and one-touch passing that mark a Heatley-Spezza rush. "(Murray) told us it'll be all right if we turn the puck over as long as we backcheck hard. We'll make mistakes, but we've got to minimize them."


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