Spezza sparks Senators

BRUCE GARRIOCH, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

By all accounts, Jason Spezza didn't miss a beat.

Spezza, back in the Senators' lineup after missing 14 games with a knee injury, picked up an assist and may very well have been the best player on the ice as Ottawa returned from the all-star break with a 3-1 victory over the Bruins yesterday at Scotiabank Place.

While coach Bryan Murray was hoping to ease his star centre back into the lineup, it was Spezza's nice feed that set up the Senators' first goal early in the third period.

"I felt better as the game went on," said Spezza, who played 14:19 and set up Patrick Eaves for the opening goal at 2:17 of the third to break a scoreless game and bring some life into the building.

"(Murray) told me before the game he'd try to ease me in there. Hopefully, as this goes on, this will help me improve. Three games in four nights is really going to help me."

LOOKS LIKE A FIRST-LINER

And to think fans were openly debating on the call-in shows as to whether the Senators were better off without Spezza.

After yesterday's performance, it would hard to imagine Spezza -- who played with Eaves and Antoine Vermette vs. the Bruins -- not back on the top line with Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson in the near future.

"The first two shifts it looked like he was tired," said Murray. "When he got the control of the puck, he played like Jason Spezza can play. He held on, he had his head up, he made some really good passes and he certainly looked better as the game went on."

His teammates certainly took notice.

"Spezza is just a really gifted player. Any time he is on the ice, he's a threat and he really complements the guys he plays with," said goaltender Ray Emery, who turned aside 29 shots. "I don't think he listens to the radio or reads the newspapers and hears what the people are saying about him. He just goes out and gets the job done."

It was, however, a goal by Chris Neil -- his first in 18 games -- that got the job done yesterday for Ottawa.

Taking a perfect feed from Peter Schaefer, Neil beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas high on the glove side to give the Senators a 2-0 lead as Ottawa never looked back.

"Somebody had said I hadn't scored in (18) games, but that's not something I really thought about. I don't look at it like that if we're winning," said Neil, who hadn't scored since Dec. 12 in Detroit. "As long as I'm driving the net or finishing checks and we win, that's all that matters."

LISTLESS START

For the first two periods, it looked like the teams were still partaking in the all-star break.

The Senators and Bruins -- meeting for the second straight Saturday (last week's result was a 3-0 Ottawa win in Boston) -- were sluggish, with neither team creating too many chances.

With the Senators leading 2-0, Boston's Glen Murray, at 8:41 of the third, finally beat Emery, who made a game-saver on Wayne Primeau with two minutes left in the game.

"The third periods have been the difference in a lot of games lately for us," said Murray. "But we feel very confident that if we're even or one down, we have the chance to win the game because we find a way and the guys are playing accordingly. It was a little bit of a ratty game early on and you could tell the guys had been off for a little bit of time. I thought we played really well in the third."


Videos

Photos