Senators blank Crosby, tie club record with eighth straight win

For all his accomplishments in his young but stellar career, Sidney Crosby has not been able to figure out the Ottawa Senators.

For all his accomplishments in his young but stellar career, Sidney Crosby has not been able to figure out the Ottawa Senators.

Brian Elliot made 30 saves to win his sixth consecutive start, Crosby was held without a point, and the Senators tied a club record with their eighth straight win, 4-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Crosby, who won the Hart Trophy as the league MVP in his second season and a Stanley Cup in his fourth, has only managed two goals in 17 games against the Senators over his career. This season he has just three assists in four games against Ottawa, all of them coming in Pittsburgh's 8-2 win over the Senators on Dec. 23.

Against the rest of the league this season, he has 33 goals and 64 points in 53 games.

"They're one of the teams that's really stepped it up here," Crosby said of the Senators. "They're solid. They play a pretty simple game and they play hard and (have) gotten some good goaltending lately."

Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Phoenix 3 Carolina 2 (SO); St; Louis 2 Edmonton 1; Chicago 4 San Jose 3 (OT); Carolina 4 New York Islanders 1; Los Angeles 4 Columbus 1; and Atlanta 4 Philadelphia 3.

At Pittsburgh, Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno scored for the Senators, who matched the Washington Capitals for the NHL's longest active winning streak. It is Ottawa's longest run since Oct. 13-Nov. 6, 2007.

"We're rolling right now," Spezza said. "We're beating good teams and gaining confidence from it. It's a broken record, but winning breeds confidence, and we're a confident bunch right now."

Evgeni Malkin scored 1:34 into the game for the Penguins, the defending Stanley Cup champions who had beaten Ottawa 8-2 on Dec. 23. Pittsburgh had its lead over the Senators for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings trimmed to three points.

"You definitely don't want to get embarrassed like that," said Spezza of the previous meeting with Pittsburgh - a game he missed due to a knee injury. "As hockey players, you have a lot of pride, and we came ready to compete tonight."

Elliott, who began the season as the team's backup, has been in net for the six most recent victories and has allowed only six goals during that span.

"We did a good job keeping everything on the outside," Elliott said. "I was able to cover up some rebounds and guys were right there on top of the crease swiping rebounds away that I didn't get to. It's really comforting as a goalie back there when guys are playing that well in front of you."

With No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire injured throughout much of the season, Elliott has taken advantage of the playing time. One of his best saves Thursday was a stop against defenceman Sergei Gonchar from the slot on a power play early in the second period.

"He's doing a great job of not only saving the pucks right now but smothering them in front of the net," Senators defenceman Chris Phillips said. "He's not giving up rebounds. You can see when he's doing that, he's on his game."

Elliott shut down Pittsburgh after Malkin scored his sixth in six games early on a perfectly placed shot from the right circle that beat Elliott high to the glove side.

But the closest the Penguins would come to scoring the remainder of the game came when Kris Letang shot the puck into the net moments after the horn sounded to end the second period.

"We didn't execute enough, and I don't think we were really too tough to play against," said Crosby, who had 10 points in his previous four games before Thursday.

"We didn't play a tough enough game."

Fisher tied it 1-1 at 10:06 of the first with his 18th, a tap-in into an open net off a feed from Foligno moments after Fisher's wrist shot hit the post.

The Senators took the lead 3:33 later when Kelly directed a loose puck into an open net while standing in front of the crease, following a shot by Jarkko Ruutu, for his 10th of the season.

"I think we responded very well after they got that early goal," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "To me that was really important. We jumped right back and scored a couple goals and took the momentum away from them."

Spezza scored for the third consecutive game since returning from missing 20 games because of a knee injury. His eighth of the season came 4:27 into the third. Foligno sealed the win with an empty-netter.

The Senators, whose winning streak was preceded by five straight losses, have outscored opponents 27-8 during the past eight.

Coyotes 3 Flames 2 (SO)

At Glendale, Ariz., Phoenix blew a two-goal, second-period lead, but Robert Lang and Lauri Korpikoski scored in the shootout to extend Calgary's winless streak to nine games.

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Blues 2 Oilers 1

At Edmonton, Eric Brewer and Alexander Steen had goals as St. Louis extended the Oilers' winless streak to a dozen games.

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Blackhawks 4 Sharks 3 (OT)

At San Jose,Calif., Troy Brouwer scored his second goal of the game 1:37 into overtime to lead Chicago over the Sharks in a matchup between the NHL's top two teams.

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Hurricanes 4 Islanders 1

At Raliegh, N.C., Cam Ward made 26 saves, and new captain Eric Staal scored his third goal in two games as Carolina won its third straight by beating the New York Islanders.

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Kings 4 Blue Jackets 1

At Columbus, Ohio, Anze Kopitar scored his 100th and 101st career goals and Los Angeles tied a season high with its fourth straight win.

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Thrashers 4 Flyers 3

At Philadelphia, Jim Slater's second goal of the game broke open a tie and lifted Atlanta over the Flyers.

 
 
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