Sens firing on all cylinders

Penguins star Sidney Crosby scuffles with Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov on Thursday....

Penguins star Sidney Crosby scuffles with Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov on Thursday. (REUTERS/Jason Cohn)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

PITTSBURGH — In equalling a franchise-record winning streak, the Senators have made the best goalies Canada has to offer look rather pedestrian. Or in some cases, even less than ordinary.

Forty-eight hours after chasing Martin Brodeur from his crease in a 3-0 win over New Jersey, they dumped the defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 at Mellon Arena — their eighth victory in a row.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who like Brodeur will represent the nation at the Olympics, was sieve-like on the last two Ottawa goals he gave up — by Chris Kelly and Jason Spezza.

Meanwhile, Brian Elliott was sensational between the Ottawa pipes, earning his sixth straight win.

“We did a good job of keeping everything away,” said Elliott. “I was able to cover up some rebounds, and guys were right there, on top of the crease just swiping rebounds away that I didn’t get to. It’s really comforting as a goalie when the guys are playing like that in front of you.”

The win over Pittsburgh not only pulled the Senators to within three points of the Penguins for fourth place in the Eastern Conference race, but also to within four of Vancouver for bragging rights as the top team in Canada.

Spezza said tying the team’s winning streak record was big.

“We’re rolling right now. We’re beating good teams and gaining confidence from it,” said Spezza. “Winning breeds confidence and we’re a confident bunch right now.”

Senators coach Cory Clouston said the record is nothing special to him.

“I’m more happy with the win,” he said. “Doesn’t matter what the situation is. Obviously, it was a tough opponent, in a difficult building to win in, and our guys managed to come away with a win. That’s more important to me.”

The Senators’ short-handed specialists, who have been perfect over the streak, successfully killed off all three Pittsburgh man-advantage opportunities. They have now survived 37-of -38 power plays over the last 12 games.

And they’ve allowed just eight goals in their win streak.

Kelly’s 10th goal of the season at 13:39 of the first period broke a 1-1 tie and stood as the winner.

Spezza padded the lead with his fifth goal in his last five games, and third in three since coming back from a knee injury.

Nick Foligno iced the victory with his eighth of the season as Fleury watched from the bench and the Penguins went with an extra attacker.

The Senators had to do without defenceman Matt Carkner for about 15 minutes of the second period when he suffered a cut on his left arm when he was hit by a puck. They also lost Chris Neil for a shift in the second when he crashed into the boards and hurt his knee while trying to finish a check.

Both players returned before the intermission, and Neil made an impact in the third when he demolished Penguins defenceman Mark Eaton with a huge hit behind the Pittsburgh net.

“I was kind of a little worried there for a second,” said Carkner. “It hit right on the nerve, and I couldn’t feel my whole arm.

“They just stitched it up, we got X-rays and there was no fracture so it was good. Took awhile to get the feeling back in the hand, but once it was back, it was fine.”

Elliott was outstanding. In the second-last minute of the first, he made a big save off Sidney Crosby, who now has just two goals in 17 career games vs. the Senators. In the opening minute of the middle period, with Alex Kovalev serving his second minor in a row, Elliott stoned both Malkin and Kris Letang.

The Senators play Montreal in a Hockey Day in Canada matinee at Scotiabank Place Saturday.

They then meet Team USA goalie Ryan Miller and the Sabres in Buffalo Tuesday before returning home to face Roberto Luongo, the third Canadian Olympic team goalie, and the Canucks next Thursday.

“We’re doing a lot of things right right now,” said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips.


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