Alfredsson ignites Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

That's one way to make a long trip seem shorter.

As the Senators embark on a four-game Western road trip, they picked up an important two points with a 5-4 victory over the Penguins yesterday at Scotiabank Place to halt an abysmal three-game losing streak.

A three-point effort from captain Daniel Alfredsson helped coach and GM Bryan Murray earn his first win since returning to the Ottawa bench for the fired John Paddock.

So instead of fretting about a losing skid and having to face the Ducks tomorrow night for the first time since last season's Stanley Cup final, the Senators could relax on their last night on their flight to Anaheim.

The Senators moved into fourth in the East with the win. Montreal, which has 81 points to Ottawa's 80, took over top spot in the conference with a 2-1 win over the Devils, who also have 80 points.

LAPOINTE SCORES

Alfredsson, with two, Antoine Vermette, Dany Heatley and newcomer Martin Lapointe scored for the Senators, who were outscored 12-1 during their losing streak. Wade Redden and Cory Stillman had two assists apiece.

"I don't think we played great (yesterday). We battled for 60 minutes," said Alfredsson, who netted his 36th and 37th goals of the season. "But I thought we battled hard enough to get the job done. (The Penguins) played well.

"As a group, we were treading water. (Murray) has brought a fresh look and a little bit of emotion. The energy is there. We're playing a little bit better."

Murray was pleased.

"We had a lot of energy. We made too many mistakes," said Murray. "All I asked the guys to do was try to play their position better, move the puck quicker and play with some emotion. I thought we did that.

"You win and you can build on that. As a coach, I can go after a couple of guys (whose play) I didn't like very much. We can ride the crest with a little bit of fire. It's a start."

The Senators took control of the game thanks to Sergei Gonchar's ill-timed cross-checking double-minor.

Gonchar nailed Alfredsson twice -- including a nasty shot to the head -- and the Senators nailed the Penguins with two power-play goals.

While Heatley gave the Senators a 5-3 lead during the second minor to Gonchar by firing a bullet shot past goalie Ty Conklin on the glove side after receiving a sweet pass from Alfredsson, it was Lapointe's first goal as Senator that got the ball rolling.

Lapointe, who raised some eyebrows by taking three minors earlier in the game, fired a shot from a bad angle that bounced off Pittsburgh defenceman Darryl Sydor and by Conklin on the stick side at 14:40.

"We knew this wasn't going to change overnight because we didn't get bad habits overnight," said centre Mike Fisher. "If we work like we have in the last couple of games, then we're making the right steps."

Senators goalie Martin Gerber, who made 25 stops, didn't turn in a sparkling effort, but he did enough to earn the win. He still gave up big rebounds and didn't look good on Evgeni Malkin's goal late in the third.

"We showed a lot of passion," said Ottawa centre Jason Spezza. "We knew that it was a must-win game heading on this trip. It was a big win."

And it made that long flight a little bit shorter.


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