Sens' Phoenix rising

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

PHOENIX -- It took a trip to the desert to get the Senators out of their scoring drought.

Just when it looked like they were going to finish this swing through the Western Conference as road kill, the Senators ended their three-game skid with a 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes last night.

Centre Mike Fisher broke out of his 18-game slump with a two-goal effort, and Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette also scored as the Senators closed out the trip with three of a possible eight points.

"It's nice to get a couple for myself," said Fisher. "I was a little surprised, I didn't know if I was seeing something seeing that red light go on. It was nice to get one and get

rolling."

GM/coach Bryan Murray was also relieved.

'A BIG RELIEF'

"You can't win if you don't have guys like Fisher, (Jason) Spezza and Heatley contributing offensively," said Murray. "For (Fisher) to score the way he did was a big relief for him and gave us a good start in the game.

"I was feeling sorry for them after the second period because we let them get back in the game on two turnovers. The result was it was a tie game going to the third. It shouldn't have been, but we found a way (to get it done)."

While Phoenix goalie Ilja Bryzgalov has been a saviour for the Coyotes, he didn't look good on Heatley's winner at 1:33 of the third period on the short side and was helpless on Vermette's insurance marker at 10:01.

"It's been a while since we won and we've been struggling lately," said Vermette. "It's a big two points because the standings are right. It's more important to get that feeling back and, hopefully, we can get it going from here.

"We found a way to win. You've got to find a way to get the two points. It was nice to see Fisher score a couple of goals. (Gerber) played well again and it was good to get him a couple of goals to help him get the win."

Making his fifth straight start in the Ottawa net, Gerber continued to provide top-notch goaltending and finally got the victory he so badly deserved. He will likely get the start Tuesday at home against the Boston Bruins.

While the Senators were still making bad defensive errors in their own end, Fisher led the attack by using his speed and playing a rugged style to help the club finally break out of its funk.

Fisher didn't just get a monkey off his back, he shed a gorilla. He ended his slump with his first two goals since Jan. 29 against the New York Islanders by scoring both Ottawa goals in the first 40 minutes last night.

His second of the game came at a perfect time. On the power play, he beat Bryzgalov with a shot that Fisher was able to tuck into the net high to the stick side from the right circle to tie it 2-2 at 18:00 of the second.

Taking a perfect pass from Dean McAmmond, Fisher redirected the puck by Bryzgalov on the glove side to give the Senators a 1-0 lead at 10:49 of the first. It was the Senators' 14th short-handed goal of the season, tying Ottawa for the league lead.

The Senators almost hit the self-destruct button in the second period. Holding a

1-0 lead, two mistakes by key players nearly cost Ottawa the game in one fell swoop.

First, Spezza had the puck poked off his stick, which resulted in a break Craig Weller, who was able to fire it upstairs by Gerber on the stick side at 8:45 of the second.

Then, only 1:31 later, Keith Yandle knocked the puck off Andrej Meszaros' stick to set up Peter Mueller on a breakaway. The Coyote put it by Gerber on the stick side.

You couldn't fault Gerber on either goal. In fact, he was a big reason the Senators won, holding Phoenix scoreless on seven power plays.

The snow storm forced the Senators to cancel their charter last night. They'll return to Ottawa late today.


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