Shootout Dom-ination

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

It is hard to imagine he could have this much impact, this quickly.

Just three games into his comeback season, Senators goaltender Dominik Hasek has already moved inside the heads of the Toronto Maple Leafs, stoning them twice now in as many dramatic shootouts, giving his club what could turn out to be two crucial extra points as this extraordinary season unfolds.

Hasek was brilliant again last night when it counted as the Senators beat the Leafs at the Corel Centre, this time 6-5 in a wild advertisement for this "new" NHL.

The Senators remain unbeaten, setting up a showdown with the 3-0 Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre.

"I don't want to get too excited," said Hasek.

He might be the only one.

Hasek rebounded from a crazy third period that saw the Leafs score three times in less than two minutes to take a 5-4 lead, only to have Ottawa's Jason Spezza complete a three-point night with his second goal halfway through the third to send it on to overtime.

Hasek, given his greatness, has that rare ability to beat some shooters before they even make their move. He downplayed the aura factor, saying the percentages show the goaltender has the advantage.

"The goaltender can cover a big part of the net," he said. "The player has to make a really good shot."

The Leafs couldn't do that last night. In the shootout, Toronto rookie Kyle Wellwood tried to deke him and was stopped.

Eric Lindros, an old foe from the shootout at the 1998 Winter Olympics, tried to deke him and was stuffed by a pad. After seeing that, Leafs centre Jason Allison didn't look like he any idea what to do and fired it over the net.

"He read Allison like a book," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"I think some of it is psychological and he gives our players an edge," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "I remember watching him one day after practice in Buffalo and the guys had to go 20 or 30 deep (in a practice shootout) before they scored on him. This is not an accident this is happening."

Hasek has the makings of his own little shootout superstition now. Each time now, he has spoken to Senators assistant coach John Paddock before the shootout started.

Last Wednesday in Toronto, he went to the bench and said to Paddock, "Tell me something."

Hasek wouldn't reveal what Paddock said then.

Last night, he went to Paddock again. "He started talking to me and told me Wellwood would try to deke and go high corner," said Hasek.

Ottawa's Dany Heatley, meanwhile, beat Toronto goaltender Ed Belfour again in the shootout. Going first for Ottawa, he whipped a shot by Belfour on the stick side, making him 2-for-2 against The Eagle.

"So far, so good," said Heatley, who also scored his third goal of the season in regulation. "I was pretty confident. I scored on Eddie last week. It's a game and the way the season goes, the more a game it's going to be. Whatever he gives me, that's what I take and I'm not going to say too much more other than that."

On the downside, centre Mike Fisher suffered a chest injury and will be evaluated today. Patrick Eaves was called up from the Sens' Binghamton (AHL) farm club.


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