'Cane's act a flop

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Take a bow, Martin Gerber. You gave an Oscar-worthy performance, as far as Chris Neil is concerned.

The rugged Senators winger was still steamed yesterday about the Hurricane goaltender's flop to the ice in the late stages of Ottawa's 3-2 loss in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday night.

While Gerber put on a stellar goaltending display, Neil had little use for the act that landed him a goalie interference penalty as Ottawa was pressing to tie up the game.

"Was that a great dive or what?" Neil asked the Sun yesterday. "That's what I don't like to see happening in this league. The league is supposed to crack down on diving. Well, I hope he gets a fine or suspension for that. I looked at the tape after the game because I thought I may have bumped him a bit ... I didn't even come close to him.

"I was telling the referee I never touched him, but I have to be careful what I say to those guys as well."

Two Carolina players were around Neil at the time and replays seemed to indicate one of them may have bumped Gerber. But the call went against the Senators. Neil, who has to fight for ice time, also knows he can't afford to take bad penalties.

"I didn't want to say anything to the officials because we had already been given a bench minor for talking to the referees and I thought there's no way I wanted to take another two minutes," said Neil.

"Then I'm sitting in the box and we're trying to come back and I'm thinking, 'Well, what is the coach (Bryan Murray) thinking of me right now?' It's a tough situation."

Neil said it was a rough night for the goalies. "They had run (Hasek) about three times in that game and they never got a goalie interference penalty," he said. "The officials might have just been looking for one on us."

Now, the Senators have to put the incident behind them. The Montreal Canadiens visit the Corel Centre tomorrow night (7:30, A-Channel). Then comes a tough weekend twinbill -- the Senators travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Saturday before returning home the next night to take on the Philadelphia Flyers.

But at least there are signs the team is approaching full strength. Winger Patrick Eaves' emergency recall was cancelled yesterday and he was sent back to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton. That means centre Mike Fisher is ready to return from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for two weeks.

"I think right now we're going to need him on the wing ... especially with (suspended winger) Martin Havlat out of the lineup," said Senators coach Bryan Murray.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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