Christmas comes early

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The Senators delivered coach John Paddock an item at the top of his Christmas wishlist last night.

It wasn't exactly a Miracle on 34th Street, but the Senators finally got some much-needed secondary scoring in a 3-1 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

With a strong performance from goalie Martin Gerber, who made 34 saves, and goals from Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza, the Senators ended a two-game losing streak as they head into their two-day holiday break.

Besides reuniting the trio of Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson, Paddock shook up the rest of his line combinations.

Fisher was with Randy Robitaille and Chris Neil, while the duo of Kelly and Antoine Vermette was reunited with Shean Donovan. Dean McAmmond centred Nick Foligno and Cody Bass.

"We made some little changes with the lines and different players responded," said Paddock.

"Shean Donovan has had trouble. He was skating and he was involved (against the Rangers)."

NO. 1 IN EAST

It wasn't a perfect performance for the Senators, but they're sitting atop the Eastern Conference at the Christmas break and they halted their losing streak.

The Rangers tried to run the Senators out of the rink in the first period with their physical play. Pest Sean Avery, back in the lineup after wrist surgery, Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr threw their weight around.

Gerber, making his fifth start in six games, was solid. He didn't have to make a lot of big saves and got lucky when Hollweg hit the post in the second and Jaromir Jagr dinged one in the third, but Gerber posted his third win in four games against New York this season as the Senators closed out their season series.

"It is definitely nice to bounce back (from a 5-2 loss in Ottawa to New York on Dec. 1)," said Gerber. "We were in a tough situation. It's definitely good to get the win. You lose a game and you have to get back to winning.

"It's always fun to play here. The crowd is in to it and it's fun for us."

Fortunately, Gerber was able to get offensive support. It was Fisher's shot at 9:08 of the third that appeared to bounce off the stick of Rangers defenceman Marc Staal that gave the club breathing room with a 3-1 lead.

KELLY ENDS DROUGHT

Kelly, who has struggled along with Vermette, capitalized on some great work from Donovan by going to the front of the net. Though Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made the initial save, Kelly jumped on the rebound for only his third goal in 16 games.

It was a much-needed boost of confidence for the Senators.

"(The Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson) line does a lot of scoring, when we can chip in, it can take a lot of pressure off that line," said Kelly.

The Senators didn't get off to start they wanted, falling behind at 3:42 of the first period on a goal by Scott Gomez. But they kept their composure and Spezza's 12th of the season at 16:16 tied it 1-1.

Lundqvist, who has had his share of struggles since beating Ottawa on Dec. 1, didn't look good as Spezza fired a shot from the top of the circle by him on the stick side.


Videos

Photos