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 Tuesday night.
“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 all.”
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 the result.”
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.
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 to six.