Ottawa begins a four-game road trip on Monday against former coach Jacques Martin's Florida Panthers.

The road trip takes place during a week that will mark the 15th anniversary of Ottawa being awarded an NHL franchise.

Since then, the Senators have been tagged with their share of less-than-desirable labels, including league doormats and underachievers.

But the longstanding belief that the team is soft has been obliterated this season.

Rookie Brian McGrattan has helped make sure the team won't be trifled with, most notably demonstrated in a tilt with Toronto's Tie Domi earlier in the season.

On Friday, Ottawa (20-4) further proved it, refusing to be bullied by a Los Angeles squad far behind on the scoreboard. McGrattan, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Zdeno Chara and Mike Fisher all incurred five-minute majors in a 5-1 Senators win.

The chippy contest was not without a cost. Chara will serve a one-game suspension Monday for instigating a fight with Tim Gleason of the Kings late in the game.

Coach Bryan Murray was hit in the wallet for his part, incurring a $10,000 US fine which displeased him greatly.

"People basically suggested I sent those guys out. How dumb am I to send out Zdeno Chara to fight at the end of the game when I know there's a $10,000 fine and a game suspension?" Murray told the Ottawa Sun.

"To have that implied by some people really disturbs me."

Things got so out of hand that Dominik Hasek was pulled for his own safety from the net after a melee with Kings forward Sean Avery, but not before making 28 saves to earn his 14th win.

Dany Heatley scored two goals to pace the Senators, with rookie Brandon Bochenski adding a goal and an assist. Fisher and Antoine Vermette also scored.

Heatley rebounded after being held without a point for the first time in 23 games the previous night in Boston.

Jason Spezza had two assists against Los Angeles, and now leads the NHL with 43 points (11 goals, 32 assists).

For Florida (9-14-4), there appears to be light at end of the tunnel after a painful 12-game winless streak. Florida was won two in a row and three of its last five games.

During the losing period, coach Martin endured much criticism for the team's paltry offensive output, with some questioning whether his defensive strengths suited the more free-wheeling play in the league this season.

But Florida had several forwards who were either hobbled or underachieving during the losing streak.

In their last five games, the Panthers have found the back of the net 18 times, a goal-scoring bonanza compared to earlier in the season.

Olli Jokinen scored the overtime winner and added two assists in Florida's 4-3 win over Chicago on Saturday. Nathan Horton added two goals and Juraj Kolnik also scored.

Roberto Luongo made 35 saves for his ninth win of the season.

Defenceman Steve Montador, acquired in a trade with Calgary for Kristian Huselius, did not dress against the Blackhawks.

Horton now has three goals in two games since returning from a knee injury. The 20-year-old Welland, Ont., native now has 10 goals in just 17 games.

In the only Ottawa-Florida meeting this season, the Senators won by a misleading 4-1 score at the Corel Centre on Nov. 17. A pair of power-play goals by Daniel Alfredsson just 20 seconds apart midway through the third period broke the game open.

The game at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Monday is a makeup date after Hurricane Wilma wiped out the originally scheduled Oct. 22 contest.

Ottawa is 7-3 in the last ten meetings between the clubs.

With Wade Redden still out of the lineup with a knee injury, the loss of Chara will affect the team's blueline depth. Ottawa has recalled 23-year-old defenceman Tomas Malec from Binghampton of the AHL.

The Senators will next fly to the West Coast for back-to-back games in Vancouver and Calgary, beginning Friday night.