The Senators pulled within a point of the Maple Leafs for the top spot with a 4-1 victory at Phoenix on Thursday. It was Ottawa’s fourth win in the last five games.
Ottawa has won 14 of the last 18 meetings with the Maple Leafs, including a 7-1 rout at Toronto on Jan. 8.
“We’ve got a great rivalry, a great race in our own division,” said Daniel Alfredsson, who had a goal and an assist for the Senators on Thursday. “We are pushing each other.”
The Senators lead the NHL with 174 goals, and have one of the best power-play units in the league. Bob Wren scored on the man-advantage Thursday, giving Ottawa at least one power-play goal in 13 of its last 14 games.
Jason Spezza scored twice and added an assist against the Coyotes. He is the fifth Senator to have multiple goals in the last four games, joining Peter Schaefer, Martin Havlat, Bryan Smolinski and Zdeno Chara.
Ponikarovsky’s goal was his career-high fifth after being sent back-and-forth from the NHL to the minors last season. The fourth-year left wing has five points in his last four games.
“I’m just happy to be here after three years of going up and down,” said Ponikarovsky, who hadn’t played more than 22 NHL games before this season. “I’m enjoying every minute with the guys in the dressing room and stuff like that. It makes you feel good and you go and play hard.”