Sens finally solve Kipper

Fans pass around a giant Canadian flag as the Ottawa Senators prepare to play the Calgary Flames....

Fans pass around a giant Canadian flag as the Ottawa Senators prepare to play the Calgary Flames. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

OTTAWA — It was a night of redemption — for the Senators, Brian Elliott and... Jonathan Cheechoo.

Coming off a 5-0 spanking at the hands of the Maple Leafs Saturday in Toronto, the Senators got goals from Jason Spezza, Jarkko Ruutu and Alexei Kovalev in a 3-2 victory over Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames.

Elliott, yanked in the loss to the Leafs, had a good night with 27 stops. Cheechoo, who had an assist on Spezza’s game-winner, played a big role as the Senators scored their first-ever victory over Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who is now 5-1-0 lifetime against Ottawa.

Senators coach Cory Clouston, who switched the lines around to try to get the offence going in the second period, was pleased with the effort, especially by Cheechoo.

“I thought he played very well. That was his best game in a long time,” said Clouston. “Not only creating offensive opportunities, I thought he played really good defensively and did a good job getting the puck out of our zone. He could have had two or three goals.”

Cheechoo, who skated with Spezza and Milan Michalek, said he was happy to contribute.

“They’re both really good players. You’ve just got to work hard trying to get open for them,” said Cheechoo. “You know they’re going to make some space for you. (Kiprusoff) made some nice saves. I played with him in Kentucky (in the AHL) and in practice he used to amaze me with some of the stuff that he was able to do.”

The Senators got some help from the Boston Bruins, who scored a 3-2 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. While the Senators are tied with Buffalo for top spot in the Northeast with 72 points, the Sabres hold the No. 3 spot in the East because they have two games in hand.

Cheechoo set up the winner when he held onto the puck, then threw a pass across the slot that bounced off a skate to Spezza, who beat Kiprusoff on the stick side to give Ottawa a 3-2 lead at 16:37 of the second period.

“Cheech makes a great play, he had a great game tonight,” said Spezza. “He should have had a couple himself. He got robbed. I think the whole bench wanted to see him score there. He’s working hard, we see how hard he works. You like seeing guys be successful and it was nice seeing him make that play tonight.”

Up to that point, Cheechoo, playing in his 500th game, might have been the most frustrated player in the building. Trying to pull off a wraparound after circling the net, Cheechoo got robbed by Kiprusoff with 11:49 left in the second. The officials went upstairs for a second look, but it was determined the puck never crossed the line.

Ruutu scored his ninth of the season to tie it up 2-2 at 9:36 of the second after a fortunate bounce in the Calgary zone resulted in a turnover. Matt Stajan, on a perfect pass from Iginla, had given the Flames a 2-1 lead at 3:18.

Could have gotten ugly

This game had the potential to get ugly. Niklas Hagman left the game briefly in the second after getting hit by Anton Volchenkov, while Mike Fisher took a vicious crosscheck from Stajan.

Chris Neil went toe-to-toe with Jamal Mayers at 16:55 of the second and scored a knockout victory for Ottawa.

A fortunate bounce off Daymond Langkow resulted in the Senators’ opening goal by Kovalev. He fired a blast from the slot that looked like a ping-pong ball, deflecting off Jay Bouwmeester, then off Langkow and into an open net.

That power-play goal came only 19 seconds after the Flames had taken a 1-0 lead at 16:51, on Hagman’s first goal since being dealt to Calgary from Toronto. He took a pass from Iginla and fired a blast that beat Elliott high on the glove side.

Elliott held the Senators in the game early, making big stops on Iginla and Hagman as Calgary came out strong.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson said the win was important with only three games left before the Olympic break.

“We can finish on a good note, play some good hockey and get some points,” said Alfredsson. “We’ve done a good job of putting ourselves in a good position here. We should be proud of what we’ve done here so far and, hopefully, we can carry that on in the last three games here.

“It was nice to be able to battle back from behind against a good defensive team and a great goalie. The effort was better and better as the game went on. That’s what we wanted: A good response (after the loss in Toronto). The two points is a result of that.”

The Senators host the Capitals Thursday at 7 p.m.


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