'Big win' for Senators

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Welcome back, Daniel Alfredsson.

With their captain returning to the lineup only a week after surgery to repair a floating bone chip in his knee, the Senators brought the Phoenix Coyotes to their knees, sending Wayne Gretzky's team packing in a 6-3 victory last night at Scotiabank Place.

Jason Spezza led the charge with two goals and two assists, Jarkko Ruutu had two goals and Alfredsson chipped in with a two-point night. Much-maligned goaltender Martin Gerber stopped 34 shots for his first win of the season.

Dany Heatley and Anton Volchenkov also scored for the Senators, who needed the victory six days after their last game, a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Senators did try to allow Phoenix back in the game with third-period goals from Shane Doan, Enver Lisin and Mikkel Boedker.

SURPRISED TO PLAY

"It was a big win for us," said Alfredsson. "You can tell Phoenix is a really good team. They've got a lot of speed and a lot of skill. We gave them a little too much space in the third, but overall we've got to be happy."

It was Alfredsson who was the talk of the town. He told reporters following the skate yesterday he would make his decision over whether to play after the warmup, but before leaving the rink at noon let coach Craig Hartsburg know he would suit up.

Even Alfredsson admitted he was surprised to be ready and confirmed he will play again tonight against the Boston Bruins.

"I didn't know what to expect really. I just tried to take a few days off after I had the surgery," said Alfredsson. "You just see how much you can push it each day. If it doesn't (get worse), you see how much you can push it the next day. I was able to get skating pretty quick and I was happy I was able to get back."

Getting Alfredsson back always ignites the Senators.

The trio of Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley was solid. Plus the Senators got contributions from other sources and that was the difference in the game.

Former Pittsburgh Penguin Ruutu was signed as a free agent in the off-season to be a pest. Few expected offensive outbursts from the rugged winger. Yet Ruutu opened the scoring at 8:31 of the first, then gave the Senators a 5-1 lead at 4:09 of the third.

Volchenkov's second-period goal in his 300th career game turned out to be the winner.

"When those guys score goals it makes it a lot easier for everybody else," said Spezza, who put away the Coyotes with his second of the night at 18:17 of the third on the power play. "We should score most nights, but when you get contributions from everybody that helps.

"The big thing is we played four lines all night and that helped everybody get into the game from the start."

Still, the Senators did put pressure on Gerber to make stops in the third by getting outshot 18-3.

"I don't really know what happened there. The game just kind of changed," said Gerber. "There's no excuse, but it's good to get the win. That's important for us. I thought, for the most part, we played pretty well."

Hartsburg was happy with the two points, but not with the third period.

"There were two different games there: I thought we took the game over and played the way to play. We had that tempo and pace and we had four lines playing the way we wanted and we had lots of jump. In the third period, we stopped and allowed them to take the pace," said Hartsburg.

Fortunately, it was too little, too late for the Coyotes.


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