Alfie ends Sens’ scoring drought, team ends losing slide

Daniel Alfredsson ends the Senators’ goal-scoring drought and Ottawa ends its losing slide with a 2-1 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday.

Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips (4) celebrate Alfredsson's game-tying goal in the third period Monday. The Senators went on to win 2-1 in shootout. Photo by Bruce Bennett, Getty Images.

NEWARK, N.J. — Given the way things have gone lately for the injury-plagued Ottawa Senators, their 2-1 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday afternoon had the feel of a minor miracle.

Goal-less since losing star defenceman Erik Karlsson last week and down 1-0 on the road to a good team that had an 8-1-1 record when scoring first, the Senators needed someone to step up and be a hero.

In the end, it was a player familiar with that role.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson scored midway through the third period and Swedish protégé Jakob Silfverberg had the only shootout goal as the Senators picked up their first win in three tries.

Alfredsson busted the Senators out of a 137:17 scoreless drought on the play, dating back to the second period of last Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There was a palpable sense of relief in the locker-room afterward, given how close the Senators were to posting another bad result after a good effort.

“It’s a long time (not to score),” Alfredsson admitted. “But we’ve been in games and we know we have to stick with it.”

The newly-formed line of Kyle Turris between Alfredsson on the right and Silfverberg on the left looks like it has a chance to stick, too.

“(Silfverberg is) a guy that definitely has offensive abilities,” Alfredsson said. “It was the first time today we played together and I thought we had some chemistry.

“(We) could have had some more chances, but it was tough to produce offensively today. The ice was as choppy as I’ve played on in a long time.”

Backup goalie Ben Bishop, who appeared headed for his second 1-0 loss in as many starts, stopped 30 shots in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout for his first victory of the season.

Martin Brodeur turned aside 29 en route to the loss.

Bishop said the win was “huge” given the team felt it deserved a better fate in Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“We played well enough to win, we just didn’t get the bounces,” he said. “And tonight, it was tough, but we got the win. And I think, hopefully, now we can just keep it rolling and start scoring some goals.”

The first period was an exasperating microcosm of the Senators’ recent run of bad luck. As has been the case for most of February, nothing was going their way.

Exhibit A: With Brodeur flopping around in the crease after being fooled by a point shot that banked off the end boards and back out front, Alfredsson backhanded a shot toward an open net. Post.

Exhibit B: Erik Condra got a partial breakaway shorthanded, but couldn’t get a proper attempt away and tried to corral the puck behind the net. Brodeur, fooled again, left his crease to chase, but the puck was already bouncing back out front to a waiting Zack Smith. With a gaping cage in front of him and a tap-in goal seemingly at hand, he put a shot right off the stick of Ilya Kovalchuk.

Either would have tied the game — Stephen Gionta had already given the Devils a 1-0 lead 79 seconds after the opening whistle by beating Bishop five-hole on a rebound — and given the team some much-needed confidence.

Instead, the Devils put the pedal down and wound up outshooting the Senators 17-9 in the frame.

Coach Paul MacLean wasn’t impressed with that period, but liked the effort the rest of the way.

Asked about the frustration that could have sunk his team, he responded: “Frustration is a useless emotion that we can’t have, and we just have to keep working at (our game).”

It looked like the injury bug that has already knocked Karlsson, top centre Jason Spezza, high-scoring winger Milan Michalek and a handful of others out of the lineup might also claim Chris Neil when he took a puck in the face midway through the first period.

He wound up returning to provide some fireworks in the dying seconds of the game.

He was in the middle of a scrum that broke out after Devils winger Patrik Elias ran Ottawa defenceman Marc Methot into Bishop, but Neil felt that, other than a minor facewash or two, he’d behaved himself.

He turned apoplectic after being assessed a roughing penalty, smashing his stick on the penalty box to earn another 10 minutes and a game misconduct.

As he stormed down the hall to the Senators’ room, he smashed the canopy overhead and drew some oohs and ahhs from the sold-out Prudential Center crowd.

GAME FILE

CHEERS

Daniel Alfredsson, Senators

When a team goes as long as the Senators did without scoring, how do you put anyone else in this spot? Alfredsson’s fourth goal of the season was a big one.

JEERS

Martin Brodeur, Devils

He was lucky the Senators didn’t score more than they did. While he came up with some nice stops late in the game, his goalposts bailed him out a couple of times and he often looked lost in the crease.

WHY THEY WON

With the odds stacked against them and arguably their three best scorers out due to injury, they managed to outwork and edge a superior, but sloppy, Devils team.

ZIBA FLIP

Mika Zibanejad took his turn in the press box Monday after an ineffective run so far in Ottawa (one assist in nine games). In an ideal situation, he’d be honing his craft in the AHL, but this isn’t an ideal situation. Said coach Paul MacLean: “He hasn’t played very well.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

What do you think? Leave a comment