Heatley the Cats' meow

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

A February Heat wave rolled through Scotiabank Place last night.

Senators winger Dany Heatley made a triumphant return to the lineup last night, scoring twice and adding an assist as Ottawa halted a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Panthers.

The Senators, who were 3-8 in the 11 games Heatley missed with a separated shoulder, were happy to have him back.

Heatley scored the third-period winner at 7:26 on the power play on a setup from linemate Jason Spezza, who chipped in with three assists. Joe Corvo, Christoph Schubert and Chris Phillips also scored for Ottawa.

"I think he has still got a shot at 50," said Senators coach John Paddock of Heatley, who scored his 26th and 27th of the season. "It could be tough because the checking will get tight the rest of the season, but he's got a chance.

"He's not going to score two goals every time, but I thought he really brought a lot to this team. You could just sense the confidence with him around."

It might be tough for Heatley to come up with an encore performance, but last night he was on fire.

"It would have been a good story if he could have gotten the hat trick into the empty net at the end of the game, but the win is all that matters," said Spezza.

"I thought (Heatley) was skating really well. That was the key for him. He had the shoulder and he's been able to skate," added Spezza. "He told me he felt good after the first period and he felt really comfortable. That was the key."

Heatley said it was nice to come back so strong after the month-long layoff.

"We needed a win. We found a way to win. We can still play better in a lot of areas, but the important thing is we got the two points," said Heatley. "I felt good out there. The first period I was a little rusty.

"The shoulder felt good and I started to feel more comfortable out there."

HABS LOSE

The good news for the Senators is they were able to strengthen their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens, tomorrow's opponent at Scotiabank Place, dropped a 4-2 decision to Toronto at home, giving Ottawa a three-point lead on the Habs.

"That's a big two points (tomorrow)," said Heatley.

If coach John Paddock's policy of win and you're in stays in place, then goalie Ray Emery, who made 29 stops, will be in the net against the Habs. He wasn't brilliant, but he snapped a personal four-game losing streak.

"I was kind of frustrated with some of the bounces they got and some of the chances they got," said Emery, who faced 16 shots in the first period and only allowed David Booth to score. "It's just good for us to get the win."


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