OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators are finding ways to spread out the offensive duties while star forward Jason Spezza recovers from injury.
Daniel Alfredsson's first goal of the season Wednesday was one of 12 different scorers on the gamesheet in Ottawa's 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
“The balance of our team we like it right now,”said Senators coach Paul MacLean.“It’s goal scoring by committee. We’re going to have to be that hard working team that grinds out some goals. We did that tonight and we have to continue to do it.”
Alfredsson’s goal early in the second period proved to be the winner, while Craig Anderson made 31 saves in his 300th career game.
Jim O’Brien, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Phillips and Chris Neil also scored for the Senators (5-1-1).
Spezza missed his second straight game with an upper body injury. He is considered day-to-day.
“We know we have to work hard every night and that’s what we do,”said Alfredsson.“When you’ve got good things going for you it’s a lot easier obviously.”
Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal (4-2-0), who saw it’s four-game winning streak come to an end. Peter Budaj faced 27 shots in his season debut.
Down 4-1 in the third, the Canadiens made a desperate push to get back in the game, but Anderson made numerous point blank saves, including two on Brandon Prust, to preserve the lead.
Anderson has easily been one of the Senators best players since the start of the season.
“Guys are doing a terrific job in front of blocking shots and cleaning the garbage so I would say it’s an overall solid effort by the guys in front of me,”said Anderson.“It allows me to do my job a lot easier.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence on our back end.”
With just over five minutes remaining Neil made it 5-1 with a wraparound goal.
A three-goal outburst by the Senators in the second period put Montreal in a deep hole.
“We took some penalties that we shouldn’t have in the second and it cost us,”said Canadiens forward Brian Gionta.“We laid off the pedal for about five, 10 minutes and they scored three quick goals and that’s the difference in the game.”
Ottawa found itself with a four-minute man advantage after Ryan White took a roughing penalty and was given an extra two minutes for arguing the initial call.
“He’s a guy that works extremely hard for us and plays with passion,”said Gionta of White.“He let it get to him a little bit.”
Alfredsson broke a 1-1 tie scoring off the faceoff and just over two minutes later Zibanejad scored his first NHL goal after beating Budaj high stick side. Zibanejad blew a kiss to the sky as part of his goal celebration.
Zibanejad was called up Monday morning and he’s made the most of his opportunity picking up points in his first two games.
“Obviously you want to get that first goal and get that out of the way and finally I got it,”said Zibanejad.“It’s nice to see the puck go in and know you can score in this league.”
MacLean has liked what he’s seen of Zibanejad so far and feels the 19-year-old is gaining more confidence.
“I think he’s even more relaxed than he was last year in the first nine games when he played with us,”said MacLean.“I think he has a little more maturity and I think he’s shown that he appreciates being in the NHL.”
Phillips picked up his second of the season as Zack Smith grabbed a bouncing puck and left it for Phillips who jumped into the play and fired a wrist shot past Budaj. The Senators would love to see Phillips score more as they have a 48-11-4 record when he scores.
The second was in stark contrast to the first that featured two fights and eight minor penalties, which left both teams struggling to create any momentum.
The Canadiens did take advantage of one of their early power play’s as Plekanec managed to jump on a rebound and slide it past Anderson. The Canadiens were 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
“Our special teams didn’t work tonight,”said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.“Our power play often broke our momentum and our penalty kill wasn’t very good. Special teams are key if you want to win hockey games.”
O’Brien, with his second in as many nights, tied the game at the eight-minute mark. Budaj took a shot off the helmet, which appeared to stun him for a moment, and O’Brien jumped on the rebound.
Notes: Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar was a late scratch with a lower body injury. ... LW Kaspars Daugavins was a healthy scratches for the Senators. ... The Canadiens were without Max Pacioretty (appendectomy), and defencemen Yannick Weber and P.K. Subban, who were healthy scratches.