Walking down the Isles

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- When the Senators look at the NHL standings this morning, they will finally find themselves in a playoff spot.

But they may have to forge ahead without captain Daniel Alfredsson.

With a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders last night at the Nassau Coliseum, the Senators jumped from No. 9 to sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Led by Jason Spezza's three-point night and two-point efforts by Dany Heatley and Joe Corvo, the Senators extended their winning streak to four straight games.

The Senators could be without Alfredsson tonight against the Washington Capitals. Alfredsson fell awkwardly early in the third period. The club is calling it a "lower body" injury.

"It feels a lot better than it did," said Alfredsson, who was favouring his right knee when he left the ice. "Hopefully, it's not too bad. I'm going to get some treatment and see how it feels (today)."

Alfredsson said he got twisted with two Islanders.

'IT HURT WHEN I LEFT'

"I kind of got hit and then hit by another guy. It hurt when I left," said Alfredsson.

"Hopefully, Alfie is not too bad," said Spezza. "That guy is a key player. We need him in the lineup.

It's been a steady ride to the top half of the standings for Ottawa. The Senators were ranked 14th going into a 4-2 win over Buffalo on Nov. 14.

Goalie Martin Gerber, making his second start in a week, picked up his second straight victory as the Senators try to help him get his confidence back.

While Ray Emery will make the start tonight against the Caps, Gerber made some solid stops, but the Senators didn't give the Isles a whole lot of room or many chances to score.

"It was a good performance by everybody," said Gerber. "They didn't get many shots and we've got some momentum."

The key for the Senators was the power play. Corvo's fourth goal of the season and Spezza's 13th both came with the man advantage. The Senators haven't lost to the Islanders since Jan. 19, 2004.

But the Senators had to take advantage of the Isles being banged up in front of a small crowd of only 8,741. There was no Alexei Yashin (knee), no Rick DiPietro (suspected groin) and no Trent Hunter (knee) in the Isles' lineup which meant the Senators needed to find a way to win.

'MORE CONFIDENCE'

"We're playing more as a team and we're getting more confidence," said Spezza. "We got off to slow start and we wish that hadn't happened. We're probably the team we should have been at the start of the year now."

The Isles, who were coming off an emotional 7-4 victory over the Rangers Sunday and sat in first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time in five years, were ripe for a loss. The Senators set the tone by using their speed and jumping on the Isles early.

With the Senators up 3-1, Jason Blake closed the gap by beating Gerber at 6:42 to make the third period interesting. After crashing into defenceman Anton Volchenkov, Blake moved to the front of the net to beat Gerber.

It was Corvo's goal late in the second that turned out to be the winner for Ottawa. On the power play, Corvo took a perfect pass from Alfredsson to beat Mike Dunham on the glove side with only 50 seconds left to give the Senators a 3-1 lead going into the third.

After pulling out to a 2-0 lead in the first, the Senators let the Isles off the hook as centre Andy Hilbert beat Gerber on a backhander at 9:38 to cut Ottawa's advantage to one goal until Corvo scored.

Spezza gave the Senators a 2-0 lead by firing a blast from the top of the right circle that beat Dunham on the blocker side at 18:27 of the first with Ottawa on the power play.

Earlier, Heatley opened the scoring as he picked up a bounce off an Isles defenceman to easily beat Dunham from the slot at 4:32.

The Senators were without defenceman Tom Preissing for a brief stretch in the first. He left after taking a high stick on the chin that required five stitches, but returned for the final five minutes.


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