Sens take five in Music City

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- The beat went on in the Music City.

The Senators stretched their season-long winning streak to five games with a 2-0 victory over the Predators last night at the Sommet Center on the strength of a 24-save performance by Alex Auld, who recorded his first shutout with Ottawa.

Wingers Dany Heatley and Nick Foligno scored for the Senators, who can close out this five-game road trip with their sixth straight win tonight in Denver against the Avalanche.

The Senators haven't won six straight since Dec. 5-18, 2007, and haven't gotten contributions and consistency like this all season.

"We're just having a lot of fun," said Foligno. "We're realizing we've got to play a certain way in order to win and we've done that for the most part. We have a structured game that fits into what each guy can do and we're aggressive.

"When we're aggressive we can be one of the best teams, we've just got to make sure we do that."

The win moved the Senators into a tie with the Maple Leafs for 11th in the East, 12 points out of a playoff spot.

Ottawa is 5-1-1 with Cory Clouston behind the bench. He's convinced the players to buy into his system.

Heatley was the Senators' best player last night. Not only did he score his 26th of the season, he was physical and had at least four good scoring chances on Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, including one in alone early in the third period.

If not for Rinne's outstanding play, the Senators could have run away with the win.

Clouston praised his club's "solid" defence.

"I thought we got a little bit complacent and they came on strong, but I thought in the third we were solid defensively," said Clouston. "We'll take the win. We got off to a really good start."

Auld had to come up with some key saves. His best may have been back-to-back stops on Martin Erat and David Legwand early in the second with the Senators up 2-0.

"The last couple of weeks we've been playing well and coming on," said Auld.

"We're playing a more upbeat tempo and that's working for us all over the ice. I've got to watch a lot of games and you really see the pressure all over the ice. It's easier for everybody.

"It's been tough for me, but (Brian Elliott) has been playing fantastic for us. What can you say when the guy ahead of you is playing the way he has been? He's been tremendous. I've been waiting for my time. It's fun to be a part of it this way."

Centre Mike Fisher, playing with country star/rumoured girlfriend Carrie Underwood looking on, set up Foligno for the opening goal and was stopped on a short-handed breakaway midway through the second. Four minutes later, Chris Kelly hit the post.

"For the most part we were moving, creating chances and we played pretty good," said Fisher.

The Senators set the tone by jumping on, and frustrating the Predators in the first.

Heatley, who nailed Nashville's Ryan Jones with a vicious hit to start the game, gave the club a 2-0 lead when he fired it by Rinne high on the stick side at 13:56 of the first.

Once the Senators took the lead, they played a solid road game. They were first on the puck, made strong plays defensively and held the Predators to 0-for-4 on the power play.

There could be a change tonight after defenceman Brendan Bell was benched in the third.

"That's just a coach's decision," said Clouston. "We felt he wasn't playing as well as we needed him to play."

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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