Capital punishment

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

It's not something you would have thought possible, really, even just three weeks ago.

Can things change that fast? In today's NHL, apparently they can.

The Senators beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 at Scotiabank Place last night, winning their fifth straight game for the first time this season.

Those kinds of streaks can now move a team quickly in the standings because the odds are some other team (or teams) are losing just as many.

Such is the case with the flailing Montreal Canadiens, who lost their third straight last night, and surrendered fourth place in the Eastern Conference to the surging Senators because of it.

The Senators' win, thanks to a pair of goals by newcomer Mike Comrie (giving him four in seven games with Ottawa) and the fourth straight game-winning goal from captain Daniel Alfredsson (they also got goals from Andrej Meszaros and Peter Schaefer), also improved the Senators' home record to 13-10-1.

That really has been the key to the Senators' improved play. Three weeks ago, they were 6-9 at home. Since then, a 7-1-1 run has vaulted them up the standings.

"It's been a terrific move for us," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We've had great commitment from our players. Our best players have been terrific. Alfie, Heatley, Redden, Emery ... go down the list. A lot of people have done a good job."

"It didn't look like we had the good legs in the early going, but we found our legs and found a way to win the game and that's what good clubs do at this time of year."

The Senators have one more game at home (tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks, who beat the Habs last night) and one on the road (Saturday night in Boston) before the all-star break.

Senators goaltender Ray Emery picked up his 20th win last night and his play, of course, has been a huge reason for the Senators' success. He had only played in six games as of mid-November as the Senators tried to get struggling Martin Gerber going so hitting the 20-win mark now is a remarkable stat.

After a quiet start last night, the teams combined for three goals in the last three minutes of the first period. Meszaros opened the scoring with a scorching slap shot. Comrie made it 2-0 at 19:33 as he jammed home a loose puck on the power play, knocked free from Johnson's pads by Ottawa's Dany Heatley.

Former Senator Brian Pothier was penalized for hooking on the play, leaving the Senators on the power play. But Washington captain Chris Clark scored a short-handed goal with just 2.3 seconds left in the period. Alfredsson got a short-handed goal for the Senators to make it 3-1 at 9:14 of the second.

The Senators limited the always-dangerous Ovechkin to one assist, on Steve Eminger's goal to make it 4-2 in the third. They didn't even allow him a shot in the first period. He got four in the second period, but they were from 43, 45, 49 and 46 feet, so the Senators were doing a good job.


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