Heater keeps goals in perspective

DON BRENNAN, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The guy they call "Heater" would really have to get hot to reach the plateau he was eyeing a couple of months ago.

More likely, he'll have to settle for the very realistic shot he has at a franchise record held by the star Ottawa traded to get him.

Dany Heatley became the third Senator ever to score 40 goals when he turned the trick Sunday in Philly, breaking a tie for the team lamp-lighting lead with Daniel Alfredsson and matching feats performed in the past by Alexei Yashin (40, 44) and Marian Hossa (45).

With 12 games to go, Heatley is almost certain to throw a good scare at the mark Hossa set in 2002-03. But after scoring 27 goals in the first half of the season, his sights were aimed higher.

"I don't set numbers," Heatley, who scored 13 goals in 10 games earlier this term (Oct. 21-Nov.12), said yesterday. "But about halfway through the season, when Alfie and I were around 25, we were both hoping to get 50. Now, 50 would be tough ... we're more worried about being ready for the playoffs."

The two star wingers will provide an interesting sidebar through the final dozen, however, as Alfredsson not only has a shot to eclipse Hossa's mark as well but leads Heatley 89-87 in the team's point-scoring race.

Alfredsson, who owns most of the club records, could eclipse Yashin's single-season, point-scoring mark (94) over the next week. The century mark is also quite attainable for Alfredsson, as he is averaging 1.35 points a game.

"One hundred points is 100 points ... it would be nice," said Alfredsson, whose previous career high was 80 points in 2003-04. "But I think the biggest thing for us is to be playing well as a team.

''If we keep winning games, we're going to get our points. As individuals, as well."

CHANGING LINES: It was a meaningless goal, as far as the game went, but when Antoine Vermette scored Ottawa's third in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Flyers, he put an exclamation mark on a statement season by the native of St. Agapit, Que. It was Vermette's 20th goal, tying him with Mike Fisher for third on the team, which alone isn't bad for a guy who has spent most of 2005-06 playing on the fourth line. It was also his NHL-leading sixth short-handed goal of the season, breaking a deadlock with Alfredsson, Hossa and Washington's Matt Pettinger. "Every time I get the chance, I just go out there and try to make the best of it," said Vermette, a penalty killer and power-play specialist his whole life. Tonight against the visiting New Jersey Devils, he is slated to play on a line with Alfredsson and Tyler Arnason. "That may not be a reward, in the long run, because he plays so well with Chris Kelly," said coach Bryan Murray, who sees Vermette as a man for all seasons (or situations, as it were) and views the speedy 23-year-old as a player he throws on the ice with the game on the line and a lead to protect .... With 2,000 tickets still available, the Senators' stretch of 23 consecutive sellouts is in jeopardy tonight. And this, a potential first-round playoff matchup, too.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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