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Senators top Penguins 4-1 for 8th win in a row

by John Kreiser

The Ottawa Senators who were blown out 8-2 at Pittsburgh on Dec. 23 bore no resemblance to the red-hot team that rolled into Mellon Arena on Thursday night.

These Senators got 30 saves from Brian Elliott as they beat the Penguins 4-1 for their eighth consecutive victory, tying a franchise record. Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno provided the offense as the Senators matched Washington for the longest current streak in the NHL.

It's their longest winning streak since Oct. 13-Nov. 6, 2007.

''We're rolling right now,'' Spezza said. ''We're beating good teams and gaining confidence from it. It's a broken record, but winning breeds confidence, and we're a confident bunch right now."

Evgeni Malkin, who had a hat trick in the pre-Christmas rout, gave the Penguins an early lead when he scored 1:34 into the game. But any thoughts of a repeat died right there.

''You definitely don't want to get embarrassed like that,'' said Spezza, who missed that game with a knee injury. ''As hockey players, you have a lot of pride, and we came ready to compete tonight.''

Elliott has won the last six games in the streak, allowing only six goals. He said he got a lot of help in holding the Penguins off the scoreboard for the final 58:24.

''We did a good job keeping everything on the outside,'' Elliott said. ''I was able to cover up some rebounds and guys were right there on top of the crease swiping rebounds away that I didn't get to. It's really comforting as a goalie back there when guys are playing that well in front of you.''

The closest the Penguins came to scoring after Malkin's early goal came when Kris Letang beat Elliott but not the second-period horn.

''We didn't execute enough, and I don't think we were really too tough to play against,'' said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has scored only twice in his career against Ottawa -- his lowest goal total against any Eastern Conference team. ''We didn't play a tough enough game.''

Fisher tied it at 10:06 of the first with his 18th, a tap-in into an open net off a feed from Foligno moments after Fisher's wrist shot had hit the post. Ottawa went ahead to stay 3:33 later when Kelly put a loose puck into an open net while standing in front of the crease for his 10th of the season.

''I think we responded very well after they got that early goal,'' Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. ''To me that was really important. We jumped right back and scored a couple goals and took the momentum away from them.''

Spezza scored 4:27 into the third to make it 3-1, giving him goals in three consecutive game since returning from missing 20 games because of a knee injury. Foligno sealed the win with an empty-netter.

The Senators, whose winning streak was preceded by five straight losses, have outscored opponents 27-8 during the past eight.

''They're one of the teams that's really stepped it up here,'' Crosby said. ''They're solid. They play a pretty simple game and they play hard and (have) gotten some good goaltending lately.''

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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