|Now that they're generating more offence, Daniel Alfredsson and the Senators aren't fazed in the least when they're forced to rally from behind (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images).
Funny what the ability to generate a little more offence can do for a team.
Once a punchless group that ranked at the bottom of the National Hockey League in goal scoring, the Ottawa Senators have rediscovered their scoring touch. Meaning that when the opposition hits the three-goal mark on the scoreboard, it isn't necessarily game over anymore.
Take, for example, Saturday's 4-3 shootout triumph over the high-octane Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Senators dug themselves a 3-1 hole after two periods, yet summoned the necessary goals in the final 20 minutes to force overtime.
"It's not something you want to do all the time, but it's good to know that you can do it," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
said of the team's ability to rally from such deficits. "Earlier in the year, we struggled to score some goals overall but now, when you get some confidence... a lot of individuals have more confidence with the puck and now we can make some things happen. It's a more confident club than it was six or seven weeks ago."
All of which should make the Senators the kind of opponent that a team battling for its playoff life might not want to see over the final few weeks of the season. They'll be anything but an easy out the rest of the way, that's for sure.
"We believe we can win every night," said head coach Cory Clouston after his team's workout at Scotiabank Place earlier today. "Are we going to? No. But we believe if we follow our game plan and we make certain adjustments as the game goes on... There's been a few games lately that we've done a few things differently in certain zones and the guys have had a lot of success doing it.
"Earlier in the year, we struggled to score some goals overall but now, when you get some confidence ... a lot of individuals have more confidence with the puck and now we can make some things happen. It's a more confident club than it was six or seven weeks ago." - Daniel Alfredsson
"So I think they believe. They believe they can go out there and compete with anybody and have success."
In the eyes of defenceman Chris Phillips
, that belief starts with the jump in offence.
"It's been one of the turning points for us, the amount of chances that we're creating now," he said. "And because of that, we're able to score some goals. In games that we've been down, we've been able to fight back and get back into the game.
"When you can do that, it certainly gives you the confidence to stay with it and play it out, the entire game, because you never know what you can make happen."
Phillips scores big for Sens
When Phillips scored the tying goal for the Senators in Pittsburgh, his teammates knew a winning finish was just around the corner.
"You know that's a good omen," said captain Daniel Alfredsson
. "All the (stars) were aligned."
Yes, the Senators know all about "the Phillips stat." When the veteran blueliner scores, the Senators have an astounding 37-6-6 record. So while a Phillips goal doesn't exactly guarantee victory, it's the next best thing.
"When the guys saw me score, it was like 'all right, that's it boys, it's just a matter of time,'" Phillips said with a chuckle. "I'm scoring at the right times, really. It's just good luck, I guess. You can look at a thousand stats that are goofy like that but I'm obviously happy that it's a positive stat instead of a negative one."
Added a grinning Mike Fisher: "That's a good stat. No pressure on Philly, I guess."
Around the boards
Defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who left Saturday's game with a lower body injury, sat out practice today. But Clouston called the move precautionary and said the burly blueliner should be good to go on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) at Scotiabank Place ... The Senators are 4-1-0 against the Sabres this season ... Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for Tuesday's game, while 500 are left for Thursday's visit by the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).