Sens speedsters special

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

On this Senators team, speed kills. Kills penalties, that is.

Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer. Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly.

And then, when they run into an especially high number of shorthanded situations and the offensive stars aren't getting enough ice time -- Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.

As was the case throughout the season, those were the forward combinations Bryan Murray put out on the ice to kill penalties in Friday's 4-1, playoff opening win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Senators survived eight of nine man-disadvantages, with the only Tampa goal coming off a 5-on-3 situation.

And, as was the case throughout the season, Ottawa was a constant threat to score while shorthanded.

The Senators had three, 2-on-1 breaks with one of their guys in the box. One was converted when Fisher whipped home a pass from Peter Schaefer at 9:37 of the third to give the home team a 3-1 lead.

"It was huge," Murray said of that goal yesterday. "You get into the last five minutes of a one goal game and the other team can do a lot of things to get back in. But when Fisher scored that, it kind of dampened their spirits and gave us the lift we needed, a little comfort level."

Ottawa scored a league-high 25 goals while killing penalties this season -- six more than next in line Philadelphia, 14 more than Tampa and 22 more than New Jersey.

"When we get opportunities, we usually go," said Fisher. "We try to score on our PK. We've done that all year. We've got guys killing that can score. We've got our top guys, Alfredsson and Heatley, and those guys are killing. (The opposition) has got to be careful. We're going to try and jump on them whenever we can, but we've got to be smart, too. First off we've got to be defensive minded, for sure."

The Senators would have had a second shorthanded goal if not for John Grahame's great glove save off Vermette on a 2-on-1.

"I think it's the system, four guys on the ice knowing what each other is going to do," Vermette, who led the team during the season with six shorthanded markers, said of the secret to their success. "We try to be aggressive. The D-men are a big part of it. The Senators were 10th most penalized team in the NHL this season. The Lightning was second least. Ottawa scored on two of its six power play chances Friday.

"We've got to stay out of the box," said Schaefer. "We don't want to be killing eight, nine penalties a night against any team. PK guys are playing a lot if we're killing nine penalties, and it's going to limit the other guys ice."

Said Fisher: "We knew coming in it was going to be called similar to the regular season. It was. There were a lot of power plays both ways. We think we can be a little more disciplined. It's going to come down to specialty teams for the series, probably."

DON.BRENNAN@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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