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Post-game report: Ottawa 6 Atlanta 4

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA (CP) - Dany Heatley scored twice Monday night to tie the Ottawa Senators record for most goals in a season and help his team to a 6-4 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

Heatley scored his 44th and 45th goals of the season and Jason Spezza had a goal and two assists as Ottawa reached the 50-win plateau for the second time in franchise history before a crowd of 18,742 at Scotiabank Place. Bryan Smolinski, Patrick Eaves and Brian McGrattan also scored for the Senators (50-17-7), who scored three times on the power play.

Coincidentally, the player who held the Senators' goal-scoring mark was Marian Hossa, who, along with Greg de Vries, was part of the trade that brought Heatley to Ottawa last summer.

The loss was a blow to Atlanta's playoff hopes. The Thrashers began the day five points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists and Hossa, Scott Mellanby and Jim Slater also scored for the Thrashers (36-32-6). Three of those goals came on the power play.

Kovalchuk and Marc Savard, who had two assists, both managed to break Heatley's Atlanta team mark of 89 points in a season, set in 2002-03, despite the loss.

Kari Lehtonen allowed six goals on 28 shots before giving way to Mike Dunham, who didn't have to make a save the rest of the way.

Ray Emery finished with 33 stops for the Senators.

Daniel Alfredsson came down with the flu earlier in the day and joined an all-star cast of scratches for Ottawa.

In addition to their high-scoring captain, the Senators were also without defencemen Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips, forwards Mike Fisher and Martin Havlat and goaltender Dominik Hasek.

Then, in the second period, Tyler Arnason was nailed by Thrashers defenceman Garnet Exelby and left the game with a suspected concussion and didn't return.

After Heatley opened the scoring in the first, the Thrashers responded with a pair of power-play goals from Hossa and Kovalchuk 58 seconds apart to open the second.

But with a 5-on-3 man advantage just minutes later, Spezza tied the game and, 23 seconds after that, Eaves scored again.

Kovalchuk whacked Chris Neil with a nasty slash and, when Andy Sutton followed it up by hitting Eaves from behind into the boards, Ottawa had another two-man advantage later in the second.

That's when Heatley banked the puck off of Lehtonen's leg from behind the net for his 45th of the season to equal Hossa's Ottawa mark, set in 2002-03.

Notes: Earlier on Monday, Emery was named the NHL's defensive player of the month. The Senators called up right-winger Denis Hamel from AHL Binghamton to take Alfredsson's place. Lehtonen has started all 27 games for Atlanta since Jan. 21. Emery has made 18 straight starts for the Senators. Ottawa is at Buffalo on Wednesday. It was the first game of a three-game road trip for Atlanta. The Thrashers are at Florida on Wednesday.

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