March 25, 2012
Senators back in control
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - It was a step in the right direction for the Senators.
Now, they have to find consistency.
Coming off an 8-4 victory over the Penguins Saturday at Scotiabank Place, the Senators had the day off Sunday before boarding a flight to Winnipeg where they’ll face the Jets Monday night at the MTS Centre.
While the weekend didn’t go as planned after a 5-1 loss to the Canadiens Friday, the Senators are sitting pretty for a playoff spot with only six games remaining on the schedule.
Nothing, however, is being taken for granted.
“We know we’re in a dogfight,” said centre Jason Spezza, who scored his 31st goal of the season on Saturday. “All it means is we got two points and now we’re going to be facing a team (in) essentially a four-point game.
“We’ve talked about the fact that now we’re in the stretch run. It doesn’t matter if we’re scoring one goal or we get eight like we did (Saturday), we’ve just got to find a way to win games, find a way to pick up points.
Jolt of confidence
“This is the time of year when points are all that matters. Teams are trying to catch us. We’ve just got to keep looking forward and pick up as many points as we can, however we can.”
After three straight losses — including an embarrassing effort Friday against the Habs at the Bell Centre — the Senators needed a jolt of confidence in the worst way. Beating up on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins certainly helped.
“We’ve defied the odds all year,” said Spezza. “Nobody expected us to be in a playoff position. We knew it was going to be a competitive game. We didn’t know whether we would win or lose, but we knew it’d be competitive.”
It wasn’t only the fact the Senators handed the high-flying Penguins their first regulation loss in 15 games, it was the way Ottawa got the job done: Contributions from all four lines with timely scoring. Exactly what they needed.
“It gives us confidence, not with the goals, but with the way we played and the way we skated. Everybody played really hard,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson, who had a four-point effort with two goals and two assists.
“When you do that, everything kind of falls into place: Power play, penalty killing and 5-on-5. We kind of reminded ourselves to really skate. We’ve been a little tentative at times and cautious. That’s not really our style.
“When we’re really skating and going after it like we did (against the Penguins), we can be pretty good.”
A win against the Jets will move the Senators another step closer to clinching a playoff a spot.
Magic number is 10
Ottawa’s magic number to make the playoffs is 10. Any combo of Ottawa points gained and Buffalo/Washington points lost that equals 10, means the Senators will return to the post-season.
The Sabres and Capitals both trail Ottawa by two points with six games left.
The Jets, meanwhile, are pretty much finished.
The Senators are in control of their own destiny as long as they string wins together.
“We know it’s up to us. We have it in our own hands, fortunately,” said Alfredsson. “(Starting with the Pittsburgh game), we talked about the importance of these seven games. It’s almost like playoffs have already started and we’ve got to win at least four.