Sens find their groove

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

OTTAWA - It’s looks like the Senators have turned the corner.

The Senators woke up Sunday morning among the top eight in the Eastern Conference, sitting in the No. 7 spot.

Their climb up the standings hasn’t been easy, but their position sure looks a lot better than it did two weeks ago.

Coach Cory Clouston rewarded the Senators by giving them Sunday off following a 3-2 win over the Habs in Montreal on Saturday that saw them go over .500 for the first time this season and improve to 6-0 when scoring first.

“It’s been a process. I know we were ready to bury the season after two games, but it was just two games and we used that to build on. We used that to become a better team,” said Clouston.

“It allowed us to kind of regroup, to work on a lot of things that we were doing well and weren’t doing well. Instead of panicking, I think the word was ‘desperation’ that (people were saying) we needed to play with.

“We said, ‘No, we needed to play with urgency and we needed to correct our mistakes.’ We still have room to improve.”

Not only have the Senators won three straight, they’ve earned victories in six of their past eight games — outscoring their opponents 24-19 in that stretch.

“We’ve worked really hard. I don’t think anybody feels that we’re playing great, but we’re doing enough good things to win games,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “That’s what it is all about and that’s what we’ve got to continue doing.

“I don’t think you can look and say, ‘We’ve turned the corner now.’ It’s just a process the whole time. You just keep trying to get better. There’s always something that’s not clicking in a game. You’ve got to keep improving, keep working and you’ve got to give yourself chances to win the game.”

Alfredsson is encouraged by how the Senators are playing.

“We’re definitely going in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve improved in a lot of areas, which helps. We’re a little bit more poised with the puck and we’re not thinking in terms of, ‘Let’s not get scored on.’ We’re trying to create more and that’s something that comes with confidence.”

The victory over Montreal was also Ottawa’s first win this season over a team currently holding down a playoff position.

The Senators need more games like the two-goal effort they had from winger Alex Kovalev, who sits three points short of 1,000 in his career.

“Every point is a (key) point and we want to climb after the way we started the season,” said Kovalev. “We don’t want to have to look back. We just want to put together some wins.”

The Senators are also close to being healthy. Blueliner Filip Kuba (broken leg) could make his season debut Tuesday when the Thrashers pay a visit. Winger Milan Michalek (knee) might also be ready to return after missing the last four games.

If that’s the case, the Senators will likely send defenceman David Hale and centre Zack Smith back to Binghamton.

Bryan Murray is going to attend the GMs’ meetings Tuesday in Toronto, where he’ll likely try to deal defenceman Brian Lee and his $875,000 US salary.

“They can move him, they just won’t get much in return,” a league executive said.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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