Mac attack rewarded

Ottawa Senators Brian McGrattan celebrates his first NHL goal against New Jersey Devil goaltender...

Ottawa Senators Brian McGrattan celebrates his first NHL goal against New Jersey Devil goaltender Martin Brodeur during second period NHL action at the Corel Centre in Ottawa Saturday.(CP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

Senators 5, Devils 4

No second-period goal this season (if ever before) has generated more cheer and celebration on the Senators bench than the deflection that slipped by Martin Brodeur at the 13:31 mark last night.

And leading the charge of extra high fives and head nuggies were Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and, of course, Jason Spezza.

"I was so happy, man," Spezza said of the first NHL goal (and first NHL point) recorded by Brawlin' Brian McGrattan. "I was pumped for him. His parents were here, the game was on Hockey Night in Canada ... it's exciting for him.

''The whole team wanted him to get it. He battles for us every night. It's a tough job. You like seeing those guys get rewarded."

Tom and Cathy McGrattan had been to a couple of their son's games this season, one a relatively short drive from their Hamilton home in Buffalo.

But they hadn't seen him score a goal in a long time, missing all seven he scored in AHL Binghamton last season and who knows how many of the 18 he had tallied in his previous two terms with the Baby Sens.

Last night, though, they were part of the 19,534 spectators at the Corel Centre who witnessed first hand the biggest gloves-on hockey moment of Brian's life.

"I took my dad down to the dressing room (after the morning skate) today and he was pretty pumped about that," McGrattan said. "Seeing my first goal probably made his weekend."

It will be etched in Brian's mind for a long while, too.

"I saw the puck go to the point (where Brian Pothier made a nice play) and there was nobody around me, so I just placed myself in front and tipped (Pothier's shot)," he said. "Fortunately, it went between his legs.

"To get my first NHL goal on a goalie that's going to the Hall of Fame .... it's an awesome feeling."

As it was for those wearing the same colour sweaters McGrattan had on.

Starts and Stops:

The Senators have now outscored their opposition 35-6 while going 6-0 on Saturdays this season. "Senators don't lose on Saturdays with Sundays off," said Spezza, wearing a big grin. "The young guys are flying." ... Sign in the stands directed at Antoine Vermette from a young lady who wanted the Senators dashing centre to know that "my boyfriend is out of town." She could have some 'splanin' to do if he was watching the game on TV ... Vermette's girlfriend was in attendance, however .... Devils coach Larry Robinson was satisfied with his team's performance, especially coming on the heels of a big 5-3 win over Montreal on Friday. "Listen, I'm extremely proud of the way we played," said Robinson. "By the time we got in (to Ottawa), it was early in the morning, it was a tough emotional game (against the Habs) and, for the most part, our guys showed a lot of heart and drive. Everybody did their job." .... Robinson saw Spezza 20 minutes after the game and shook his hand. Spezza showed the respect the Hall of Famer deserves. "Hi Mr. Robinson, how are you?" he said.

Between Periods:

Just when you thought the slew foot was out of style, along comes Brian Rafalski and his takedown of Peter Schaefer in the first. Only had to serve 16 seconds for the crime, however, as Chris Neil set him free with his fourth power-play goal of the season ... The Devils were without three of their better players last night in Vladimir Malakhov, Alex Mogilny and Jamie Langenbrunner. Mogilny, who expects to return shortly from the concussion that has kept him out of the lineup for five games, says he expects the odds are "very slim" he'll be included on GM Pavel Bure's Russian team for the Olympics. "There's a very good pool of players, a lot of young talent that should be on that hockey club," said Mogilny, who has a gold medal from the '96 Games and would be honored to be included on the '06 squad. "Right now, I'm just thinking about playing again. I'm taking it day by day." ... We were impressed by an 18-year-old freshman with a flashy glove who was tending goal for the Quinnipiac Bobcats in an overtime loss to the No. 3 ranked St. Lawrence University Saints on Friday. Talk is the Senators are also interested observers in his progress. Mike Fisher's brother, Bud, is eligible for next June's entry draft.

Punch Lines:

His wingers (Neil, Fisher) vehemently objected when we referred to Bryan Smolinski's line as the The Donut Line (hole in the middle) and Neil went so far as to say it was more like the Boston Cream Line, because the "centre had been filled." We're putting an end to that suggestion right here and now, however, as we don't want any wise guys to remind us that the Boston Cream Donut is soft, yellow and too rich ... Neil was two-thirds of the way to a Gordie Howe (goal, assist, fight) by the 18:57 mark of the first. "It wasn't out of the question," he said. "But the game was pretty close, and you don't want to put your team down or give (the Devils) momentum."

SOME THINGS WORTH NOTING...

DANCIN' TO THEIR OWN BEAT: Pat Lalime had his Stevie Wonder impersonation, Domink Hasek leaves his head gear on and now we notice Ray Emery sticks his noggin in the net for the last part of the national anthem. Emery will want to discontinue the move he made fielding a puck behind the net in the second period, however. The way he stumbled, it looked like he had a head start with the Christmas cheer.

THIS AND THAT: Chris Kelly was the best draw man on the night, winning 8-of-10 faceoffs ... Mike Fisher was thinking not of a hat trick or winning a free slice of pizza for everyone, but only preserving the win when he was out killing a penalty in the final seconds. "It would have been nice," he said of the possibility of scoring his third. "Maybe another day."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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