OTTAWA – Ottawa Senators coach Bryan Murray wanted some emotion from his team as they attempted to halt a three-game slide before they head out west on a four-game road trip. The players responded.
Two goals and an assist from captain Daniel Alfredsson helped the Senators snap that losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon at Scotiabank Place.
Antoine Vermette, Martin Lapointe and Dany Heatley also scored for the Senators, while goaltender Martin Gerber made 25 saves for the victory.
The Penguins got two goals from Ryan Malone and another from Petr Sykora. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and two assists and Ty Conklin stopped 25 shots in a losing effort.
“All the asked the guys to do was play their positions better, move the puck quicker and play with some emotion,” said Murray, who was behind the bench for just the second game since relieving John Paddock of the coaching duties earlier in the week.
“Now hopefully we can ride the crest of that little bit of fire when we go out west.”
That little bit of fire wasn’t just the five goals, it was some raw energy that resulted in a couple of first-period skirmishes that saw Vermette get into his first professional fight as he fought Maxime Talbot.
“It’s my first one. I was at the end of my shift and I was tired, but I didn’t mind it,” said Vermette, who was an assist shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick..
“We realize that we have to turn things around here and not worry so much about the results but more on the preparation and the intensity. I think we had a pretty good effort and that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Alfredsson had just one goal in his previous nine games but broke out of his funk yesterday.
After winning six of eight, the Penguins (36-23-7) have now lost four of their last five. The Senators (37-23-6) won for just the third time in their past 10 games.
“I think we’re still playing pretty good and in games like this we’re getting bad breaks. We’ve got a lot of guys down but we’re playing well. It’s not like we’re getting out worked and out muscled,” Talbot said.
“Tonight they got the best of us. It was a tough one.”
Malkin scored the only goal of the third period as he beat Gerber with a hard shot from the top of the faceoff circle with six minutes to play.
Malone opened the scoring but goals by Vermette and Alfredsson late in the first period gave the Senators a 2-1 lead. They had scored just once in their previous three games.
Sykora’s power-play goal with just 12 seconds to play in the period pulled the Penguins even heading into the first intermission.
Alfredsson scored a short handed goal just 90 seconds into the second but Malone tied the game 3-3 a minute later.
Sergei Gonchar took a double-minor for cross-checking midway through the second period and it proved costly as the Senators scored on both ends of the man advantage to take a 5-3 lead.
“That was definitely the turning point and it was a tough call against us,” said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who wasn’t at all pleased with the call and even less pleased with the explanation.
“Let’s put it this way-it’s really tough to communicate (with the referee), and it wouldn’t have changed the call.”
Lapointe scored his first goal as a Senator as his pass in front of the net deflected off Penguins defenceman Darryl Sydor and in. On the second power play Heatley scored for just the third time in his past 10 games. His one-timer went off the cross bar and in behind Conklin to give the Senators the 5-3 lead they took into the second intermission.
Notes: Penguins rookie Alex Goligoski recorded a second-period assist Saturday for his first career NHL point in just his second career game…Senators forward Martin Lapointe took three straight minors and now has 1,400 career penalty minutes.