Fisher: 'We didn't quit'

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Senators coach Cory Clouston was wondering out loud yesterday morning about the challenge of keeping his players motivated in the final week of a lost season.

It's job No. 1 for the rookie coach who's trying to prove he's worthy of returning next year.

The Senators showed they have a little fight left in them last night, blowing a 2-0 lead and then rebounding in the third period for a 4-3 shootout win over the playoff-bound Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place.

The win pulled the Senators back to the break-even point -- 34-34-10 -- a little boost for a team that has known for some time now its season will end Saturday in Toronto.

The Senators bucked the trend of a team coming off a long road trip and almost always losing the first game back at home.

That's the kind of season it's been for the Senators and their fans: You take the little positives where you can, right?

"It's always fun to win a game," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "The struggles from early in the year for myself and the team are in the past. The first half was a disappointment, but we're feeling better about our team and playing a better brand of hockey."

Spezza said there is still plenty of motivation for the final week of the season.

"You're playing for pride, for your teammates. Reputations are on the line," he said. "We're playing to show we're a better team than we showed at the start of the season."

In Clouston's 30th game behind the Ottawa bench, the Senators improved to 17-10-3 under the rookie coach.

After early goals in the shootout by Philly's Daniel Briere (after a ridiculously long video review) and Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, five shooters failed to score before Ottawa's Mike Fisher ended it, beating Flyers goaltender Antero Niittymaki with a shot to the glove side.

'BATTLED PRETTY HARD'

"It's always nice to score like that," said Fisher. "We didn't quit when we got behind against a pretty good team. I thought we battled pretty hard coming off a tough road trip."

The Senators fell behind 3-2 28 seconds into the third when speedy forward Simon Gagne left a bunch of Senators behind as he cut through the slot and tucked a backhander behind Senators goaltender Alex Auld.

But Spezza put them back on level footing at 3:47 when the Flyers' Jeff Carter had his rim-around hit the referee and/or Senators winger Dany Heatley in the corner to the right of Niittymaki. Heatley got the puck to Spezza, whose quick snapshot found the net.

The Senators looked good early in the second after a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Nick Foligno -- with his dad, ex-NHLer Mike, watching from the stands -- and a nice effort by Chris Kelly just under the three-minute mark of the second, had staked the Senators to a 2-0 lead.

With the Flyers having played the night before, you would have thought that might do it, but Kanata's Darroll Powe delighted his friends and family on hand in dramatic fashion, scoring on a penalty shot about 30 seconds after Kelly's goal. Powe had broken in on Auld, but was hooked by Ottawa defenceman Filip Kuba.

Powe, a 23-year-old rookie with five goals going into the game, swept in and managed to beat Auld to the glove side with the puck hitting the post, sliding along the goal line and going in off Auld's right leg.

The Flyers tied it on the power play at 10:46 after Ottawa's Jarkko Ruutu and Powe were involved in a collision outside the penalty boxes. Powe lost his stick and Ruutu poked it away and was penalized for interference.

Mike Richards tied the game just three seconds into the minor. Briere won the draw and Richards' shot hit a Senator on the way to the net and deflected behind Auld.

The fact Briere was involved in the goal -- even the fact that it was scored -- must have frustrated some Senators fans since Briere had gotten away with a couple of hard slashes on Senators defenceman Brian Lee just seconds before.

CHRIS.STEVENSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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