Alfredsson had two goals and two assists in his first game back
from a rib injury and Bryan Smolinski added three assists to lead
the Ottawa Senators to a 7-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on
"He adds a whole new dimension that we didn't have a week
ago," Senators coach Bryan Murray said.
Sidelined for the entire road trip after he was struck by a
Chara slap shot Dec. 30 in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders,
Alfredsson set up Heatley's power-play goal 1:31 in.
"Probably not since August any of us has been 100 percent, but
I feel good," Alfredsson said. "I can't say it hindered anything
I did out there. I felt confident. I got bumped a few times and
decided to go in the corners, and it gave me more confidence. It's
great to know before next game."
Alfredsson got his 32nd assist on Chara's goal with a 5-on-3
advantage at 11:54 and added his 26th goal early in the third.
Alfredsson added his second of the game at 12:48, tying Heatley
for the team lead with 27.
"He's really looked after himself," said coach Murray, who got
his captain back a few games earlier than he previously expected.
"He's a very strong individual mentally. He obviously can tolerate
the pain. I don't know what the extent was tonight as far as what
he felt of the injury but it didn't show like he was hurting at
Jason Spezza, the usual center on the Senators' "Pizza Line",
was out with a chest injury for the ninth time in Ottawa's last 10
games, including its last four.
"We knew we were in tough tonight -- they're a great hockey
club," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "They have a great
physical presence over there, they've got good defense, they have
one of the great goaltenders to ever play in the game, they've got
tremendous skill so we knew we were in for a game against one of
the better teams in this league but obviously we're disappointed in
Michalek, in the penalty box when Heatley scored, atoned
slightly by drawing the Coyotes even at 1 with his seventh goal on
a shot from the point at 7:59.
Chara, originally credited with Heatley's goal, ultimately got
his eighth of the season later in the period. The 6-foot-9
defenseman backhanded his rebound past goalie Brian Boucher just as
Heatley was poised to put the puck away from the edge of the crease
with the Senators enjoying a two-man advantage.
Fisher scored his 14th at 8:14 of the second and set up Neil's
12th goal at 11:31, just moments after he had sent linesman Angelo
D'Amico flying when the two collided in front of the Senators'
bench on the rush into the Coyotes' zone.
"I just said, 'Get out of my way!" said Fisher, who had seen
a replay of the collision. "I didn't really see him until the last
minute. I hit him pretty hard but we joked about it after."
Eaves made it 5-1 with his seventh goal at 16:57, leaving Ottawa
more than a period to deliver on its pizza promotion.
Alfredsson's two third-period goal took care of that before
Lundmark closed out the scoring at 17:08.
^Notes:@ The Coyotes also lost four straight from Dec. 13-20, with
all the losses in both streaks coming in regulation. ... Gretzky
was given an loud cheer when he was shown on the video scoreboard
shortly after Alfredsson's second goal. He spoke with Senators
owner Eugene Melnyk and general manager John Muckler after the game
before leaving for his grandmother's funeral, which will take place
Wednesday in his hometown of Brantford, Ont. ... Ottawa's pizza
promotion was based on five goals in a Senators win the first three
times the team hit the mark this season and subsequently increased