Neil Sens' hangman

Ottawa Senators Chris Neil hangs on the crossbar after scoring on Boston Bruins Andrew Raycroft...

Ottawa Senators Chris Neil hangs on the crossbar after scoring on Boston Bruins Andrew Raycroft during first period NHL action in Ottawa Saturday Oct 15, 2005.(CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:54 AM ET

Senators 5, Bruins 1

Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Nobody is ever going to mistake Chris Neil for Shaquille O'Neal.

But after what amounted to a slam dunk of a goal -- the first in the Senators' 5-1 win over the Boston Bruins at the Corel Centre last night -- Neil hung from the crossbar like Shaq might from the rim after a monster slam.

"That was like the video game NBA Jam, it was old school," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "That stuff is good for the game. They should put it on video."

In front of 19,379 spectators, the Senators also completed a sweep of the Northeast Division (their first five games were all against Northeast opponents) with last night's win and opened a season with five-straight wins for the first time.

Goaltender Dominik Hasek made 34 saves for the 300th win of his NHL career, against a Bruins team missing stars Joe Thornton and Alexei Zhamnov.

"Hopefully we can keep it going," said Neil of the fast start. "That's great. Dom gave us excellent goaltending again, our penalty killing was big and Alfie made a great play to get us going."

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson tip-toed around Boston defenceman Nick Boynton -- playing his first game of the season after a contract dispute -- and fed Neil for the opening goal.

Neil snapped home the pass into the top of the open net and then hopped over Boston goaltender Andrew Raycroft, grabbed onto the crossbar and dangled for a couple of seconds.

Neil's goal, at 11:15 of the first period, came after the Senators killed a 5-on-3 disadvantage for a minute and 40 seconds, six minutes into the game.

"After we killed the penalties, we got control of the game," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "The Bruins got frustrated with themselves and that certainly helped."

The Senators, whose longest unbeaten string from the start of a season is nine games (6-0-3) in the 2000-2001 season, could also take encouragement from getting goals from five different players last night. Three of those scored their first goals of the season: Neil, with his third of the season, all on the power play; Antoine Vermette (his second); and firsts for rookie Brandon Bochenski, Anton Volchenkov and Bryan Smolinski.

"It's important to have that depth in scoring," said Alfredsson, who had two assists. "In the pre-season one line was playing really well (the Spezza-Dany Heatley-Bochenski line) and the others just followed.

"Having different lines step on different nights takes the pressure off everybody."

The Senators and defenceman Zdeno Chara had a scary moment in the third period. Chara broke in and was highsticked in the face from behind by Boston's Andrew Alberts, who received a double-minor for highsticking.

The Sens lost Peter Schaefer with a wrist injury after he had contributed a couple of assists and done some excellent penalty killing. He went to hospital for X-rays.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com\


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