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Make it seven straight for Ottawa

by Adam Schwartz
Ottawa's Mike Fisher tries to get a shot past Boston's Tim Thomas during the Senators' 2-1 shootout win.
Can anybody stop the Ottawa Senators?

The Northeast Division leaders continue to roll, as they extended their winning streak to seven games with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins at the TD Northbank Garden on Sunday night.

With the win, the Senators (12-1-0) were able to sweep a home and home series against the Bruins, who dropped to 7-5-1. It marks the longest winning streak for Ottawa in six years, as it increased its division lead to seven points over the second-place Montreal Canadiens.

With 24 points, the Senators now have one more than the Detroit Red Wings for the most in the NHL.

Daniel Alfredsson scored the only shootout goal the Senators would need as he streaked in on Tim Thomas and beat the Bruins’ goaltender low to the stick side. Antoine Vermette was the second shooter in the shootout, and he was able to beat Thomas through the legs.

Boston coach Claude Julien went with Chuck Kobasew and Phil Kessel in the breakaway session, but both Bruins were denied by Martin Gerber, who finished with 21 saves.

“Shootouts are tough,” Thomas said. “The margin for error is miniscule.”

At 4:01 in the third period, Vermette tied the game with a shorthanded goal after rookie Nick Foligno took an interference penalty at 3:33.

'We just couldn’t score on the power play, but specialty teams still won us the game,'' Alfredsson said.

Even though the Bruins fell short on Sunday, it appears Kobasew has the Senators’ number. After scoring both of Boston’s goals against the Senators on Saturday night during the opener of the two-game set, he scored the Bruins’ first and only goal at 4:13 of the first period.

In Saturday night’s contest, all three of Ottawa’s goals were scored on the power play, which propelled the Senators to a 3-2 victory.

Boston killed all six penalties on Sunday, including an 80-second two-man advantage in the second period. Julien believed taking that many penalties detracted from his team’s success.

“Penalties took away our momentum,” said Julien. “By the time we got a power play, it cost us because they scored a shorthanded goal on us.”

While Ottawa coach John Paddock will take the victory, this really wasn’t your average Senators’ win. In the end, his team found a way to get it done, just like most good teams do.

''I wouldn't say it was unorthodox, but to score a short-handed goal after having so many power play opportunities and not really either finishing or looking very good,'' Paddock said. ''To tie it short-handed, it's just a good 'find a way to win' game.''

Jason Spezza missed his third game with a hamstring injury. Despite the All-Star pivot’s troubles, the Senators signed the crafty 24-year-old to a seven-year $49 million contract extension last Friday.

Spezza’s absence left Randy Robitaille and Mike Fisher to center Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley on one of the league’s most potent offensive combinations. Robitaille scored two goals against the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Julien gave the bulk of the credit to his netminder as the reason why the Bruins left the TD Northbank Garden on Sunday night with a point.

''Timmy, again, is the reason why we were in the game the whole time,'' Julien said of Thomas. ''He kept us in the game as long as he could. Then we gave up that short-handed goal. That was a backbreaker.''

Thomas made six saves alone during a stretch in the second period when the Senators had a two-man advantage for 43 seconds. He even was able to erase one his own mistakes, when he robbed Alfredsson after the latter intercepted the goaltender’s clearing attempt.

''We did a good job on fixing our penalty kill and stepping up and putting the effort that we need to do the penalty kill,'' Thomas said. ''Just some bad luck on the short-handed goal.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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