Sens dormant offence starting to wake up

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

The Senators are hoping Friday night's victory is the start of a joyous holiday season.

A 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils Friday at Scotiabank Place took some of the pressure off the team -- and in particular coach Cory Clouston, who has been taking heat for Ottawa's struggles.

The Senators are just 3-6-1 in their past 10 and were five points out of a playoff spot heading into Saturday's games.

The team has just five games left before the two-day holiday break. Centre Jason Spezza said the Senators -- who have not won back-to-back games in more than a month -- have to go on a run over the next two weeks if they want to claw their way back into the playoff picture.

Ottawa starts that stretch with a home game Monday night against the Atlanta Thrashers, who are jostling with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference.

"We've got to win two-thirds of our games coming up here," Spezza said. "We've got to be ready every night, especially facing teams ahead of us in the standings."

The Senators have to play more consistent hockey if they hope to get on a roll. Even in Friday night's win, New Jersey nearly tied the game late in the third, but David Clarkson had a goal waved off because he kicked in the puck and Henrik Tallinder hit the post.

One positive sign is the team's dormant offence is showing signs of waking up. The Senators have scored six goals in their last two games and have started to show a bit more jump.

Clouston said the win over the Devils should give his players a much-needed boost of confidence.

"It's very important," said Clouston. "It's just a matter of finishing off (a game). We've been there, we just haven't had the resilience or (they've gotten) a bad break. Whatever it's been.

"We've kind of beaten ourselves at times. We've been in the games. Fortunately, (against New Jersey) we finished it off and we got the two points. Now, we've got to build on that."

Some of the Senators' key scorers have shown signs of breaking out of their funks over the past couple of games.

In a 5-3 loss to the Rangers Thursday, Mike Fisher had a pair of goals and Spezza also scored. Milan Michalek, Jarkko Ruutu and Erik Karlsson had the Senators' goals on Friday.

"Maybe we can get a little bit of confidence back with different guys scoring every night," said Spezza. "Milan scored a goal and you could see the look of relief in his face. The way he's been playing has been great.

"Different guys are feeling better about their game. It's just a confidence thing. When guys start playing better, then you're going to see more guys getting chances."

Butler didn't do it

Bobby Butler's brief stint with the Senators is over. Mired in a goal-scoring slump, the Senators called up the talented forward from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton last Sunday. Butler, who was leading the AHL in goals with 15 at the time, went pointless in four games with Ottawa and was dropped to the fourth line against the Devils. He was sent back to the Baby Sens on Saturday.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos