for this game

Eaves, Heatley lead Ottawa past Florida

Mar 23, 2007 - 5:29 AM
SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- The Ottawa Senators still have time to catch the Buffalo Sabres for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

One of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Senators jumped to a commanding lead and coasted to a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.

With 2:31 remaining in the first period, Patrick Eaves intercepted a pass near the right faceoff circle and backhanded the puck past the outstretched leg of goaltender Ed Belfour for a 1-0 lead.

After Jason Spezza doubled the lead with a power-play goal at 5:26 of the second, Dany Heatley snapped a five-game goalless drought four minutes later, giving Ottawa a 3-0 bulge. It was the 43rd tally of the season for the All-Star left wing, who trails Anaheim's Teemu Selanne by one for second overall in the league.

"(Coach Bryan Murray) expects a lot out of us," Spezza said. "We were on a pretty good roll there for a while, but he wasn't happy with the last two or three games. He just wants to make sure we are going good going into the playoffs. We know what's needed for this team to win. Guys are playing pretty well and if we get everybody going, we're a dangerous hockey club."

Dean McAmmond also scored and Spezza and Eaves each added an assist for the Senators (44-23-8), who have earned at least one point in 19 of their last 20 games and increased their lead over Pittsburgh (41-23-10) for fourth place in the Eastern Conference to four.

Ottawa also climbed within five points of idle Buffalo (49-17-7) for first place in both the conference and Northeast Division.

"We're learning how to win," Spezza said. "We're playing a little bit smarter. We're tightening things up defensively and we're capitalizing on our chances. We're just playing with confidence. When you start doing those things, it makes it a lot easier to play a game."

Ray Emery continued his stellar play in goal, stopping 35 shots to notch his 30th win for the Senators, who swept the season series against the Panthers.

"We feel good," Emery said. "We realize that we can't take nights off. It's not like we can cruise to victories, but if we play our game, more often than not, we can do pretty well."

"Against a team like that, it's going to be awfully tough coming back," said Panthers center Chris Gratton, who was honored during a pregame ceremony for appearing in his 1,000th career contest. "The guys put up a heck of a fight in the third period there. We had a couple of power plays where we could have climbed back in it, but Emery played really well for them."

Captain Olli Jokinen scored his 35th goal of the season in the third period for Florida (31-30-13), which fell seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Belfour surrendered three goals on just nine shots before being replaced by Craig Anderson at the start of the third period.

"Eddie has been very good, but tonight was one of those nights where he didn't come up with the saves," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said of Belfour, who has appeared in 24 straight games. "I guess after the number of games that he's played in, it's hard to blame him, but I thought that we had a good effort. I thought we had a lot of chances. Their goaltender was good."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 1 3 0 4
    FLORIDA 0 1 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - PATRICK EAVES 12 (UNASSISTED) 2:31
    2ND PRD: OTT - (PP) JASON SPEZZA 30 (JOE CORVO, DANIEL ALFREDSSON)
    5:26
    OTT - DANY HEATLEY 43 (JASON SPEZZA, TOM PREISSING) 9:30
    OTT - DEAN MCAMMOND 12 (CHRISTOPH SCHUBERT, PA

    Mar 22 10:01 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 4
    FLORIDA 2
    3RD PRD: FLA - OLLI JOKINEN 35 (UNASSISTED) 11:53

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 9:44 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 1 3 4
    FLORIDA 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - PATRICK EAVES 12 (UNASSISTED) 2:31
    2ND PRD: OTT - (PP) JOE CORVO 8 (DANIEL ALFREDSSON, ANDREJ MESZAROS)
    5:26
    OTT - DANY HEATLEY 43 (JASON SPEZZA, TOM PREISSING) 9:30
    OTT - DEAN MCAMMOND 12 (CHRISTO

    Mar 22 9:05 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 4
    FLORIDA 1
    2ND PRD: FLA - JOZEF STUMPEL 20 (ROSTISLAV OLESZ, OLLI JOKINEN) 18:22

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 9:03 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 4
    FLORIDA 0
    2ND PRD: OTT - DEAN MCAMMOND 12 (CHRISTOPH SCHUBERT) 12:01

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 8:52 PM


  • CORRECTION
    NHL OTTAWA 3
    FLORIDA 0 10:30 LEFT, 2ND PRD

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 8:47 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 4
    FLORIDA 0
    2ND PRD: OTT - DANY HEATLEY 44 (JASON SPEZZA) 9:30

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 8:46 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 3
    FLORIDA 0
    2ND PRD: OTT - DANY HEATLEY 43 (JASON SPEZZA) 9:30

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 8:43 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 2
    FLORIDA 0
    2ND PRD: OTT - (PP) JOE CORVO 8 (DANIEL ALFREDSSON, ANDREJ MESZAROS)
    5:26

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 1 1
    FLORIDA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - PATRICK EAVES 12 (UNASSISTED) 2:31
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTT 8 8
    FLA 6 6
    GOALIES: OTT - RAY EMERY
    FLA - ED BELFOUR

    Mar 22 8:12 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 1
    FLORIDA 0
    1ST PRD: OTT - PATRICK EAVES 12 (CHRISTOPH SCHUBERT) 2:31

    Senators vs. PanthersMar 22 7:44 PM