Sens can Bank on Eaves

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

Senators 3, Flyers 2

Hard to believe now that Patrick Eaves didn't even make the Senators out of training camp, isn't it?

Especially after last night, when he replaced Daniel Alfredsson as the right wing on a line that has carried the Senators most of the season.

Especially after his effort throughout the game, but particularly on the first shift of the second period.

It was Eaves who battled along the boards, emerged with the puck and took the shot that hit a post and rebounded out onto the stick of Dany Heatley, who swiftly ended his four-game goal-less drought by scoring what would hold up to be the winner in a significant 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at The Bank.

Jason Spezza also drew an assist on the play, ending a four-game pointless streak of his own.

"They're good," Eaves said of his linemates of the night, both of whom are now headed to Italy with Team Canada. "They're so talented. They're always in the right spot. They get the puck to you when you don't think it's possible.

''They make you a better player."

Only last night, Eaves made Spezza and Heatley better players.

Will he be playing with them when the Senators return from the Olympic break, or will he back on the third or fourth line? Eaves doesn't know, nor does he care.

"We won, that's the most important thing," he said. "I had a great time playing with those guys, but I'm not worried about things like who I'm playing with. No matter who it is when we come back, I'm just going to keep working hard and hopefully we get the results like we did on that goal (last night)."

It was a big one, for sure, improving the Senators to 4-19 in games they score three times or less, and proving to themselves once again that they can beat a quality team in a tight-checking, hard-fought game.

In a playoff-style game .

Good thing Patrick Eaves isn't still in Bingo, isn't it?

Starts and Stops:

Chris Neil held a yard sale (his gloves, helmet and stick were everywhere) and reached for his left ear to draw a high-sticking penalty on Flyers defenceman Eric Desjardins for the game's first power play. Like most others by Ottawa these days, it was a waste of time, as the home side managed only one shot (at the end of a burst by Mike Fisher) during the two-minute advantage ... The struggling Senators' power play was 0-for-3 on the night and is now 0-for-14 in the last three games ... "The game is a little different now," said Senators coach Bryan Murray, comparing the style of play to the way it was earlier in the season. "I really believe that by getting away (for the Olympic break), then coming back, we'll re-establish our offence. That's what I'm hoping for." That should probably be in the Things That Make You Go Hmmm department, shouldn't it? .... If they're going to start acknowledging former Senators in attendance like they did last night (Rob Murphy, Shaun Van Allen, Jim Kyte), could they not at least steal an idea from the Maple Leafs and play the Welcome Back Kotter theme song at the same time? ... To be fair, the Senators did have a solid showing during a late second-period penalty to Philly defenceman Derian Hatcher, but Antero Niitty"No Relation to Chico"maki robbed Alfredsson, Andrej Meszaros and Heatley.

Between Periods:

Spezza waited four games for an assist -- guess he probably didn't mind waiting the extra period it took before he was finally credited with one on Heatley's first goal in 240-plus minutes ... In two days, Lance Pitlick went from being a face in the crowd (caught on the big screen) to holding a mike and leading the Go Sens Go cheer on the Jumbotron. Half expecting to see him with his arm around Lyndon Slewidge in a national anthem duet after the break.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

Say this about Eaves -- he's a nice kid with a nice girlfriend and he owns a pair of nice red shoes. Thankfully, the Senators haven't suggested to him that he tone down the Elvis Costello footwear yet ... Visiting The Bank this week during a one-month break in his Russian Elite league schedule was Ottawa-born goalie Fred Brathwaite, a veteran of eight NHL seasons who's currently on a team called Kazan Ak-Bars. Brathwaite aims to return to the NHL next season -- so why not in his home town? "I'm not even going to speculate on the Ottawa situation," said Fred. "Hopefully, I'm opening some eyes this year and somebody will give me a chance."

Punch Lines:

Wasn't Freddy Meyer IV in Halloween? He forgot to leave the orange-and-black costume behind ... We think Freddy's brother Oscar was shot by the Master Blaster in the first period ... Kept waiting for Flyers rookie R.J. Umberger to get an assist so we could refer to it as an Umberger Helper. Okay, so even media guys could use a break.

DON.BRENNAN@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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