Captain steers blowout

CHRIS STEVENSON, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

On Hockey Day In Canada, Daniel Alfredsson put on a performance that could be described as all-world.

The Senators captain had a goal and four assists in the Senators' 8-3 crushing of the sputtering Montreal Canadiens, pushing his game to familiar heights and helping pull his teammates up with him.

He might not have been named to the NHL all-star teams announced yesterday after a slow start to the season, but Alfredsson's play over the last few weeks has once again placed him among the game's best players.

"Was he not the best player in the league out there today?" wondered Senators coach Bryan Murray after Alfredsson's five points yesterday give him a staggering 68 points (22 goals and 46 assists) in just 53 career games against the Habs.

The Senators roared out to a 6-0 lead yesterday, quieting the huge contingent of Canadiens fans among the 20,038 at Scotiabank Place.

Alfredsson didn't have an explanation for his success against the Habs.

"These are always fun games to play, in Montreal, as well, because it's always a good atmosphere," said the captain.

"There were lots of Montreal fans here and we said we have to get off to a good start to take the crowd out of the game here, too," he joked (at least we think he was joking).

"It's a big win for us."

Linemates Dany Heatley, with his 28th goal of the season and two assists, and Chris Kelly (career single-game best goal and three assists) helped Alfredsson lead the charge.

The Senators also got goals from eight different players yesterday, with Wade Redden (fourth), Antoine Vermette (15th), Mike Comrie (ninth), Patrick Eaves (10th and fifth in his last five games) and Andrej Meszaros putting their names on the scoring list.

"He's playing close to 22, 23 minutes a night, killing penalties, running the power play on the half-wall...he's been our best player along with Heater (Heatley)," Redden, who opened the scoring thanks to an Alfredsson setup, said of the captain.

"He settles things down so much for us. When we're in trouble, he can take the puck, make a couple of quick steps and calm things down. That's the kind of presence he has."

The Senators now have a presence right on the tails of the Canadiens who, after a great start to the season, have now lost six of nine.

The Senators were 12 points back of the Canadiens on Dec. 22.

After yesterday's win, which makes them 9-1-1 in their last 11 without centres Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher, the Senators are but one point back for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and second spot in the Northeast Division.

Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet, who beat out Senators goaltender Ray Emery for a spot on the Eastern Conference all-star team named yesterday, was chased from the Montreal net after Kelly scored his ninth of the season early in the third to make it 6- 0.

"I didn't play like an all-star today," said Huet.

Not that it was his fault. His teammates gave the puck away and took lazy penalties, opening the door for the Senators power play to go 3-for-5 on the day.

The Canadiens had a flicker of hope after David Aebischer replaced Huet and Montreal's Christopher Higgins and Craig Rivet scoring 22 seconds apart to make it 6-2.

But there would be no collapse by the Senators like there was Thursday night against the New York Rangers.

Eaves and Meszaros (who saw Habs defenceman Sheldon Souray put the puck in his own net) scored in the final minute of the second to make it 8-2 after 40 minutes.

"The period we had to worry about was the third," said Murray. "It's hard to keep aggressive, moving and hitting when you're leading 5-0. We addressed what happened in New York with the point being we have to be a team.

"We got away from that the other day. Everyone picked up from where we hadn't played in the third (against the Rangers)."

The Senators will have today off and will be back at work tomorrow to prepare for a visit from Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.


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