Dom's picture perfect

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:01 PM ET

Dominik Hasek wasn't front and centre when the Senators had their team picture taken yesterday.

The veteran goaltender was standing at the end of the second row, which is about the only time he won't be the guy in the hot seat when it comes to snapshots of the Senators' season this year.

Heading into tonight's meeting with the Leafs, the snapshot of Hasek's comeback season so far looks like something from three or four years ago, which is to say pretty good.

After almost three years off, the 40-year-old got his first shutout in a Senators uniform Saturday against a team for which he starred, the Sabres, the 64th blanking of his career.

He's stopped 58 of the 60 shots he's faced in games so far. So far, so good.

"Through pre-season and (Saturday) night, he was vintage, wasn't he? He was what he has been in the past," marvelled Senators coach Bryan Murray, who will call on Hasek again tonight.

Hasek was low key again yesterday, much as he has been throughout training camp and the early part of the season. He knows this isn't about October, but April, May and, hopefully for the Senators, June.

But you know if he had gotten off to even a mediocre start, the questions would have been flying by now.

"What can I say?" has been one of his go-to comments.

"My teammates have been clearing the rebounds. I make the first save and I think only once or twice (Saturday night) they got a second shot. There have been lots of shots, but most of them I could see."

His Senators teammates have given up trying to figure out how he does it. They couldn't do it when they played against him. They can't now playing with him.

"You just shake your head sometimes," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "He's so good at the little things, the way he covers rebounds and the way he reads things. He's across the net before the play even happens.

"There's a reason why he's a Hall of Famer and one of the best goaltenders, if not the best ever. We don't ask too much about what he's doing. We just put our trust in him."

Murray said Hasek's flexibility is the key to him being able to apparently pick up where he left off.

"Dominik is an example of a guy who is very fit, very flexible. I think that's the telling sign of age when you have a sore back after you bend over to tie your shoes. Obviously, he's got that flexibility, he's got that conditioning level and very definitely the knowledge and experience to help our hockey team with big stops.

"It gives everybody a very positive feeling our goaltending is in good hands."

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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