TORONTO – An increasingly potent power play helped the Senators turn the tables on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ottawa scored twice with the man advantage Tuesday to snap a five-game losing streak against Toronto and record a 3-2 win.
The victory came at Air Canada Centre, a rink where Ottawa had been outscored by a margin of 13-3 over its previous three visits dating back to last season.
Mike Fisher, who scored on a first period penalty shot for the Senators, said getting a victory against a Northeast Division foe was doubly important.
“It was a big win for us,” he said. “We haven’t been playing well against our division, so we need to start winning some of these games and moving up and building. Tonight is a good way to do it.”
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson echoed that sentiment.
“It’s just the two points, try to climb in the standings. That’s pretty much what it means for us. We knew Toronto was a couple points ahead of us, we just want to keep going.”
It was unclear for much of the day whether Alfredsson, who was hampered by a lower-body injury, would even suit up. But the veteran right-winger turned in a gritty effort, collecting a second-period assist on one of Ottawa’s power-play goals.
The Senators’ play with the man advantage has done a complete about-face following a terrible stretch that saw the team go 0-for-17 to start the season. Ottawa has eight goals in its past 28 power-play opportunities, which translates to a torrid 29 per-cent conversion rate.
“It’s small margins sometimes,” Alfredsson said of success with the extra man. “We knew we had the personnel to have a good power play and I think in the beginning we started so poorly overall that it affected everything. We weren’t making plays from instinct, we were more deliberate, too slow.
“But now we’re shooting, we’re getting people in front when we need it and we’re getting set up pretty much every time.”
Two keys in the Senators’ man-advantage attack are point-men Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson. Both found the mark Tuesday, converting tape-to-tape passes from each other.
Gonchar, a key off-season signing for the team, one-timed home his first goal as a Senator, before returning the favour by teeing up Karlsson for what turned out to be the winner.
Gonchar was happy to score his first goal as a Senator, but was more focused on the overall result.
“Obviously it’s a great feeling when you score for the first time, but it’s an even better feeling when you score and your team won,” said the veteran Russian.
Karlsson’s goal was his third of the season as he continues to round into form after rough start that saw him criticized by Senators head coach Cory Clouston.
“He’s a great young, skilled guy,” Fisher said. “Those guys compliment each other very well and they’re very deceptive and can shoot and they need to do more of that.”