OTTAWA – It might only be two games, but for the improving Ottawa Senators it’s still a win streak.
Milan Michalek, Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson each had a goal and an assist to lead Ottawa to a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.Zack Smith and Alex Kovalev also scored to help the Senators (4-5-1) win consecutive games for the first time this season.
“It’s what we’ve got to do right now,”said Fisher.“We have to keep building and try and get better and get a little confidence as a group and I think we’ve managed to do that last few games. We still have a lot of things to improve on and get better, but I think we’re starting to play better.”
Kovalev, with his third in two games, admits it feels pretty good to be finding the back of the net after registering just one point in the first eight games.
“It’s always a great feeling when you score and win games,”said Kovalev, who is quick to credit a budding chemistry with linemates, Peter Regin and Nick Foligno.
“It would be great to stay together the rest of the season. We could build on that chemistry and build on the things we do well.”
Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott improved his record to 4-3-0 by stopping 28 shots.
Bryan McCabe, Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli scored for the Panthers (3-5-0), who have now lost their last two.
Despite playing much of the first period in the Panthers’end the Senators found themselves trailing 1-0 after the first period on McCabe’s power-play goal midway through the period.
“We gave up the first goal, but didn’t change our game plan,”said Senators coach Cory Clouston.“We trusted in it, stuck with it and it was nice to see.”
Michalek picked up his fourth of the season as he and Chris Kelly broke in shorthanded on a 2-on-1 and Vokoun, who faced 28 shots, was unable to get across in time after anticipating the shot from Kelly.
The Senators took the lead for good midway through the period as Fisher was left all alone to pick up Sergei Gonchar’s rebound. Just over a minute later Smith picked up his first of the season as he caught Vokoun cheating against the post and slipped it behind.
“We weren’t sharp tonight,”said Panthers defenceman Dennis Wideman.“They played well and we weren’t there. We just weren’t good enough.”
The Senators took control of the game, scoring two goals early in the third period. Kovalev got a little help from Vokoun who tipped the shot in with his stick as he attempted to deflect it.
Just over two minutes later a turnover at centre ice allowed Fisher to feed Alfredsson who skated into the high slot and beat Vokoun with a wrist shot.
“I think this builds confidence,”said Alfredsson.“Sometimes we’ve been a little bit too passive, but today we were aggressive from the beginning and even though we didn’t have the lead after the first period we still felt we played really well and kept that going in the second.
The Panthers made it interesting with goals by Higgins and Santorelli, but Florida ran out of time to complete a comeback.
The Senators wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday night as they host the Boston Bruins.
Notes: With a hooking penalty in the second period Jarkko Ruutu accumulated 1,000 penalty minutes. …The Senators were without C Jason Spezza (groin, day-to-day), D Filip Kuba (broken right leg, two weeks), G Pascal Leclaire (groin, indefinite). …D Brian Lee was a healthy scratch. …Florida is without RW Byron Bitz (groin, five weeks), C Mark Cullen (Achilles, indefinite). RW Michael Frolik was a healthy scratch for the Panthers.