Ottawa strikes back

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 10:55 PM ET

Pittsburgh - Daniel Alfredsson was a big hit in more ways than one last night.

The Senators captain helped dump the Pittsburgh Penguins with a two-goal performance, then put an exclamation point on the hard-earned victory by knocking longtime Ottawa playoff nemesis Gary Roberts on his butt in the third period.

The result was a 4-2 Senators' victory in the first playoff game at Mellon Arena in six years and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round series.

This was a tough win, in a tough town.

Facing a gut-check game, the Senators led by two-point efforts from Alfredsson and winger Dean McAmmond completely shut down the Penguins last night and restored their fansd faith only 24 hours after dropping a 4-3 decision at Scotiabank Place in Game 2.

Now, the Senators, who lost winger Patrick Eaves with an apparent head injury, can push Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to the brink of elimination with a victory in Game 4 here tomorrow night.

McAmmond and Mike Comrie had the other goals for the Senators.

"We wanted to come in here and we wanted to play well,Sum said Alfredsson. PIWe were disappointed because we werendt able to put the game away (Saturday) and we had chances. This is a good win for us.

But in the playoffs, now the next game is the most important."

To be successful in the post-season, teams need different players to step forward and play the role of hero. That's expected of Alfredsson, but it was the performance by the gritty McAmmond that impressed his teammates.

He recorded a "Gordie Howe" hat-trick with a goal, assist and fight. The Senators not only flexed their muscle with McAmmondds fists, they also made Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury look terrible.

"I just thought we played really well and we wanted to come back strong.

This just shows there's no momentum in this series," said coach Bryan Murray. "This is about single games here. You win (last night) and you've got to get yourself ready for the next game because anything can happen."

Eaves was taken off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a concussion after getting nailed by Pittsburghds Colby Armstrong behind the net midway through the second period. Eaves had his head down when he was hammered by Armstrong.

McAmmond, who had the odd tussle in his junior day, stood up for his fallen teammate by going toe-to-toe with Maxime Talbot in the ensuing scrum.

Armstrong was not penalized on the play.

"We got off to a good start and then we made a lot of mistakes," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, whose club took a 1-0 lead on a Gary Roberts' goal just 52 seconds into the game. "We need to play a lot better defensively. That was pretty bad in the second period ... pretty bad. Idm concerned, thereds no doubt. Thatds two games in a row."

The Senators took control in the middle period. Alfredsson tallied twice, including once on the power play at 7:20, for a 4-1 lead and the Penguins never even had a sniff of a goal around Ray Emery.

Comrie started the three-goal outburst in the second. He picked up a deflection off Mike Fisherds stick and deposited it into an open net behind Fleury to give the Senators a 2-1 lead only 2:13 into the second.

Crosby completed the scoring with another highlight reel goal in the third period.

"I'm not concerned. As I said after Game 1, if we play a full 60 minutes and wedre nowhere close, thatds when we panic," Crosby said.

The Senators know they haven't accomplished anything yet.

"We just have to keep it going," said centre Jason Spezza. "We played well, but we've got a long way to go."

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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