New Ottawa Senators
coach Bryan Murray had three words for his team prior to Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins
at Scotiabank Place: Show some emotion.
Daniel Alfredsson certainly got the message.
The Sens’ captain scored twice and added an assist as Ottawa snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Pens. It was Murray’s first win since he fired John Paddock earlier in the week and went behind the bench himself.
"All I asked the guys to do was play their positions better, move the puck quicker and play with some emotion," said Murray, who’s also the Senators’ general manager.
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Penguins, who got another three points from Evgeni Malkin. He scored the only goal of the third period, which came with six minutes remaining. Ty Conklin made 25 saves in the loss.
Pittsburgh broke a scoreless tie when Ryan Malone beat Martin Gerber 8:43 into the game. With the Penguins coming down on a 3-on-2, Malone took a gorgeous cross-ice feed from Malkin that he tapped past Gerber as the Pens took a 1-0 lead.
“We kept coming back and battling, and despite being down, we always felt like we could win this game," Malone said. "We worked hard but we came up short. It's as simple as that."
Ottawa responded with back-to-back goals from Antoine Vermette and Alfredsson 61 seconds apart. Vermette tied the game at 15:11 when he redirected Wade Redden’s blast from the left point past Conklin for his 15th goal of the season. Alfredsson then put the Senators in front when he ripped a wrist shot from the right circle past Conklin following a giveaway near the Pens’ blue line.
"We realize that we have to turn things around here and not worry so much about the results but more on the preparation and the intensity,” Vermette said. “I think we had a pretty good effort and that's what we're going to have to do."
Petr Sykora tied the game on the power play at 19:48, but Alfredsson put Ottawa back in front with a shorthanded goal just 90 seconds into the second period. Alfredsson blocked a slap shot from Sergei Gonchar as the Pittsburgh blue line, went in on a breakaway and beat Conklin to put Ottawa up 3-2.
But Malone quickly erased the deficit. Moments after the same penalty expired, the Pens’ forward fired a rebound past Gerber for his second goal of the afternoon.
"I think we're still playing pretty good and in games like this we're getting bad breaks,” Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot said. “We've got a lot of guys down but we're playing well. It's not like we're getting outworked and outmuscled."
Gonchar took a double minor for cross-checking at 13:40, and the Senators made the Penguins pay twice.
Recently-acquired Martin Lapointe restored the Senators’ lead at 14:40. Lapointe, who entered Saturday’s action with only three goals all season, ripped a slap shot from the right wing that was initially stopped by Conklin. But Penguins’ defenseman Darryl Sydor accidentally put the puck in his own net as he attempted to swat away the rebound.
Dany Heatley put Ottawa up by a pair at 16:12 when he took a pass from Alfredsson and one-timed a rocket from between the circles past Conklin to make it 5-3. It was Heatley’s 31st goal of the season but only his third in 10 games.
“That was definitely the turning point and it was a tough call against us," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said of Gonchar’s four-minute penalty.
Pittsburgh closed the gap in the third period on Malkin’s goal with 5:54 to play, but failed to come up with the equalizer.
“Obviously this is a big two points for us, but this time of year every win is huge, especially against a team close to us in the standings, and with other teams fighting for position," Heatley said.
Things don’t get easier for the Senators, who begin a West Coast trip Monday night in Anaheim.
"Hopefully we can ride the crest of that little bit of fire when we go out west," Murray said.
Material from wire services was used in this report.