Sens get by without Alfie

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- They call Daniel Alfredsson the heart and soul of the Senators, but it's his hip that has them worried.

While the Senators were able to celebrate a 5-2 victory over the Islanders last night at the Nassau County Coliseum, they were forced to finish the game without their captain because of a sore hip.

"I aggravated it a bit in the second period," said Alfredsson. "It was at the end of a shift and I was reaching for a puck. I could skate, but not as well as I should.

"We will see how it is (today) and go from there. It was precautionary.

"You don't want it to be something that you are 80% the rest of the season. You want to make sure you can get back."

Alfredsson, who missed two games last week because of the same injury, played 12:22 through two periods, but the Senators had to soldier on without him when he didn't return for the third period and his absence nearly cost them.

After building a 3-0 lead on goals from Andrej Meszaros, Chris Phillips and Dean McAmmond, the Senators hung on until Mike Fisher, who had a two-point night, secured the win with his 19th of the season with 4:57 left in the third period. Jason Spezza added an empty-netter.

GERBER SOLID

The Senators closed out their four-game road trip with four out of a possible eight points and two straight victories, but they had a tough time in the third period and Martin Gerber had to make some big stops.

"It was a good game for us. We get back after the break and I thought we played pretty well," said Gerber. "It felt good, but I could see the pucks well and that helped."

With the Senators facing Northeast Division opponents in five of their next six games and the Canadiens within striking distance for top spot, Ottawa needed the two points to maintain its six-point lead on the Habs -- 4-0 winners over the Capitals last night.

Last week, coach John Paddock told Gerber and backup Ray Emery the rotation of the two netminders would stop. Instead, Paddock is going to go with the hot hand, so Gerber has a strong chance to tighten his grip on the job after scoring his second straight victory.

"We were feeling pretty good at 3-0, but they clawed back and (Gerber) made some good saves," said Fisher. "When Alfie went down in the third, we had to kind of tighten up a bit."

Gerber, who was beaten by Bryan Berard at 6:35 of the third to cut the lead to 3-2, stepped up after that. He made some good stops in the third, made a big pad stop on Richard Park in the second and was helped when Blake Comeau hit the post.

Had it not been for yet another gaffe by Senators blueliner Joe Corvo, Ottawa would have been in control going into the third period. His turnover behind the net allowed the Isles to beat Gerber at 15:58 of the second.

Isles winger Sean Bergenheim took a perfect pass from Josef Vasicek in front after he stole the puck off Corvo's stick.

Until then, the Senators were in control of the game.

The Senators made it 3-0 when McAmmond took a sweet backhanded pass out front from Fisher and beat DiPetro on the stick side at 6:38 of the second for his third goal in three games and seventh of the season.

FOUND LEGS

The Senators had a tough time getting rolling, but found their legs midway through the first period with two goals in a span of 45 seconds -- by Meszaros on the power play and Phillips.

First, it was Meszaros, on the power play, who fired a shot from the point that appeared to be deflected as it beat DiPietro through the legs at 9:18.

Then, Phillips, who hadn't scored since Nov. 22 against Pittsburgh, broke his 29-game drought, taking a pass from Antoine Vermette and beating DiPietro on the stick side.

The Senators return to Scotiabank Place tomorrow for the first time since Jan. 19 to face the Bruins. Game time is 7:30 p.m.


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