Neil earns his stripes

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:35 PM ET

Chris Neil has got his name in the Senators record book.

Getting there wasn't half the fun.

Neil, 26, became the Senators all-time penalty minutes leader Friday night. The five-minute major and game misconduct he picked up for checking Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown from behind vaulted him past former tough guy Denis Vial.

Neil now has 633 penalty minutes in 243 games to Vial's 625, which he picked up in 176 games over the 1994-95 to 1997-98 seasons.

"I hadn't really thought about it, but it's good to be in one spot this long, to be able to contribute and help as much as I can," said Neil. "I stick up for my teammates and I think they appreciate it."

Neil had to sweat out his record-earning minutes, however. The Senators were leading 3-1 early in the third when Neil checked Brown in front of the Kings' bench.

"I didn't want to put the club in that situation, put them down for five minutes at that point in the game," said Neil. "I saw (Brown) turning, but then the puck was kicked back in and just as I hit him, he turned (his back)."

The Senators penalty killers and goaltender Dominik Hasek got the job done, giving up just five shots.

Senators youngsters Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette did a particularly good job penalty killing on the night. Vermette scored a breakaway goal shorthanded on a sweet pass by Kelly to make it 3-1 late in the second. "I thought the key was the Vermette goal," said captain Daniel Alfredsson. "Getting that two-goal cushion took the wind out of them."

Right after Neil's major was snuffed, the Senators got goals from Dany Heatley and Mike Fisher 15 seconds apart to complete the 5-1 win.

NOTES: The Senators will practice today and then jet off to Florida where they will face the Panthers tomorrow night. It's the rescheduled game that was postponed from Oct. 22 because of the threat by Hurricane Wilma.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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