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Canadian Press
1/27/2007 7:02:34 PM


OTTAWA (CP) - Already playing their best hockey of the season, the Ottawa Senators welcomed Jason Spezza back to the lineup Saturday afternoon and kept on rolling.

The star centre set up Patrick Eaves' third-period goal that opened the scoring in a 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins, Ottawa's 12th in the last 15 games. Playing on the second line with Eaves and Antoine Vermette, Spezza fit right in on a team that had played well during his five-week absence because of a knee injury.

''It was good to get back in the lineup and get playing games again,'' said Spezza, who played 14:19. ''It's nice to get on the scoresheet too.

''I felt a little tentative at first but I felt better as the game went on. I thought our line, for never really playing together, did a pretty good job of using each other and getting the puck in deep.''

Chris Neil and Antoine Vermette, awarded a goal when Marc Savard threw his stick as he skated in on an empty net, also scored for the Senators (29-20-2).

Neil's goal at 7:48 of the third ended an 18-game drought and stood as the winner.

''It was a big two points for us,'' said Neil, who hadn't scored since Dec. 12 in Detroit. ''We wanted to come out and play a good game, especially after a bit of a break, and I thought we did that for the most part.''

Glen Murray had the lone goal for the Bruins (22-21-4), who were outshot 36-30.

''In the third period we came out strong and had a couple chances but we couldn't score until they had a 2-0 lead,'' said Bruins coach Dave Lewis.

''We still had some chances after and there was a scramble late but we couldn't get it done.''

Spezza was back in the lineup for the first time after missing Ottawa's last 14 games with a knee injury, but as expected, he wasn't part of the top line with Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson.

Those two played between Chris Kelly, who was solid in Spezza's absence.

Still, the 19,846 in attendance at Scotiabank Place sat through two periods before a goal was scored.

Eaves opened the scoring at 2:17 to give the Senators the lead. After Spezza tipped the puck into the slot, Eaves spun and fired a low shot that went through the legs of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.

A little less than six minutes after Ottawa took the lead, Neil made it 2-0 when he converted a pass from Peter Schaefer and beat Thomas to the glove side.

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I saw most of the game.

It started off kind of dull, but then thngs picked up i nthe 3rd. You could tell Ottawa was going to come away with the W when they got the 1st one.

I'm curious to see the line combiniations when Fisher returns. The addition of Comrie has given them an extra weapon in the center position.

This team has balance up front.
 
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