Schu fits for Senators

Ottawa Senators' Christoph Schubert from Germany, center, is helped from the ice by a Pittsburgh...

Ottawa Senators' Christoph Schubert from Germany, center, is helped from the ice by a Pittsburgh Penguins trainer, left, and a Senators trainer after he was injured after smashing into the boards in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

DON BRENNAN, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Christoph Schubert saved the Senators' bacon with a holding penalty last night.

But there are a couple of very good reasons he wouldn't have taken a bow as one of the game's three stars even if he had been chosen:

For one, he was at the hospital at the conclusion of Ottawa's come-from-behind 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Secondly, his back was too sore.

Schubert, who was rammed into the boards by Pittsburgh's Eric Boguniecki in a scary third-period incident, was in the penalty box midway through the second period when Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher scored short-handed goals 67 seconds apart to erase a 2-0 deficit and turn Ottawa's fortunes around.

After the game, Schubert was picked up at the hospital and accompanied the team to Buffalo, where the Senators face the Sabres tomorrow night.

While he appeared to have a stiff back, his sense of humour was fully intact.

When it was mentioned that he was key in the comeback, Schubert deadpanned: "Like I always say, you've got to take penalties at the right time."

POOR FIRST HALF

Despite the victory, Senators fans must be wondering what's wrong with their team.

Sure, they managed to snap a two-game losing streak, but for the first half of the game last night it looked like they were going to be schooled by a team that:

A) Entered the evening with 38 fewer points.

B) Has one Olympian, to their eight.

C) Had lost its star player, Sidney Crosby, to the flu.

D) Was using its third-string goalie, Sebastien Caron.

And yet it wasn't until Schubert's penalty that Ottawa was able to right the ship.

Following the Vermette and Fisher goals -- which countered Pittsburgh tallies by Michel Ouellet and Ryan Malone -- Zdeno Chara broke the tie with Ottawa enjoying a two-man advantage 2:16 from the second intermission, and Anton Volchenkov moved in from the point to increase the lead on a 4-on-4 just 28 seconds into the third.

"(The Penguins) played awfully well early. Until that power play they were pretty much in control," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "Those two (short-handed goals) broke them and we took off from there."

The victory moved Ottawa to within four points -- with a game in hand -- of idle Carolina in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference.

After Volchenkov gave Ottawa a two-goal lead, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley each scored their 33rd of the season as the Senators pulled away.

THIRD SHORT-HANDED GOAL

Alfredsson added his 34th -- Ottawa's third short-handed marker of the game -- to round out the scoring.

"Any time you start short-handed as much as we were, it's hard to get into a rhythm. I'm just happy we stayed with it and we were patient," said Alfredsson, who had an assist to go with his two goals.

"We didn't panic ... we stuck to our game plan. We knew the way the game was being called, we'd get our chances," said Ottawa centre Jason Spezza, who had three assists as did defenceman Wade Redden. "But those two short-handed goals were huge."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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