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8-1 romp eases pressure: Murray hopes to keep ball rolling tonight in Toronto
Allen Panzeri, CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2006

TORONTO - Ottawa holds its collective breath.

Have the Senators found their way out of the wilderness, or was their 8-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday merely an illusion, a tease?

Can the teeth-gnashing stop, or is it too early to stop booing Jason Spezza?

After agonizing over an unencouraging start that led to a minute and painful probing of his team's psyche, coach Bryan Murray is hoping so.

Whether the team has turned a corner or not, he can't say for sure. But he'll get a better idea tonight, when the Senators play the Maple Leafs for the third time this season.

It wouldn't be a moment too soon for the Senators to leave their funk behind, considering the widening gap in the Northeast Division.

Before last night's game between Buffalo and Montreal, the undefeated Sabres topped the division with 16 points, while the Leafs sat in second with 11. The Senators are in the rearview mirror with six, only one more than the last-place Boston Bruins.

For now, at least, the win over New Jersey went a long way toward restoring some confidence.

"I think there's always pressure when you're not winning and not playing well," Murray said. "And I think guys were pressing. I don't think there's any question about that.

"I think it was a real relief when we scored the first power-play goal [to open the scoring on Saturday night]. I think it kind of loosened people up, and they just played.

"To win, and to win the way we did -- not only the goals, but the way we played -- I thought it was a real positive, and at least I felt it in practice [yesterday].

The players felt the same, even those, such as defenceman Wade Redden, for example, who continue to struggle.

Redden still doesn't have a point and is minus-three. He, Andrej Meszaros and Peter Schaefer are the only regulars without a point.

"It was a big game for us," Redden said. "Just getting a win, that was the biggest thing. And the way we played, we came out and did things that we've been talking about doing all year, but haven't been doing. I think we got into a bit of a rhythm. I think guys kind of figured out what it takes again to play ... We've got to have that same energy every night."

The Senators still have plenty of things to fix, with the power play topping the list.

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