There was an extra bounce in the Ottawa Senators’ step on a sunny winter Sunday morning. And no wonder.
Clearly, the Senators’ dramatic 4-3 overtime triumph over the Penguins on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh was just the tonic for a group that had seen its share of struggles in recent weeks.
But it wasn’t just the win, though. Rather, it was the way the Senators dug out of a 3-0 hole when the Penguins seemed poised to earn a victory that would have knocked Ottawa out of top spot in the Eastern Conference – a position the team has enjoyed since the first week of the season.
“We found a way to win,” captain Daniel Alfredsson
said after a spirited workout Sunday at Scotiabank Place. “I really liked what I saw from our team, the way we battled back. Even though we didn’t play well, we tried hard and that’s what I think is going to rub off here and keep us going.
“Even practice today … that’s one of the best practices we’ve had all year. You can see everybody is a little bit more focused now and hopefully we can keep that going.”
Head coach John Paddock especially liked seeing two of his big scoring guns spring to life when it mattered most. Dany Heatley ended a five-game scoring drought with a pair of goals to tie it 3-3 before Alfredsson delivered the winner in the dying seconds of overtime.
None of the goals were a work of art. Paddock said his assistant coaches referred to them as the “prettiest ugliest goals we’ve ever scored … and we needed them.”
“We don’t score enough of those goals at the best of times but the timing of them was great,” he said. “That’s how goals are scored, period … Scoring goals isn’t just skill, there’s some hard work to it and sometimes there’s a little bit of a price to be paid in front of the net. But that’s what needs to be done.”
Ray Emery, who made some spectacular saves in overtime to give the Senators a chance to win, earned himself a fifth straight start Monday night, when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).Around the boards
Dean McAmmond, who missed Saturday’s game with the flu, didn’t practice today. Paddock said his status against the Leafs remains undecided. “We’ll see how he feels after today,” said Paddock … Fewer than 500 tickets remain for Monday’s game.