Sens shine in overtime

BRUCE GARRIOCH, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

TORONTO -- Chris Phillips was the unlikely hero in the Battle of Ontario.

An unlikely hero on a night where a couple of more Senators joined the walking wounded list. Both Peter Schaefer and Antoine Vermette went down late in the game with "lower body" injuries.

Phillips picked up a breakaway pass from winger Dany Heatley and beat Andrew Raycroft at 2:39 of overtime to give the club its fourth straight victory with a 3-2 overtime decision against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Chris Kelly pushed the game to overtime when he scored in the final two minutes. Dean McAmmond also scored for Ottawa, while goaltender Ray Emery put on a standout performance.

"That's huge -- especially with the rivalry," said Phillips. "To hear those chants we were hearing (Senators suck) in those final few minutes and then to win it the way we did, with (Kelly) scoring and then getting the winner, is just great.

"I got the puck from (Heatley) and I just tried to get rid of it as fast as I could."

With former 67's defenceman Brendan Bell off for holding, Boyd Devereaux fired a shot that beat Emery on the glove side from the top of the circle with 6:20 left in the third period.

But Kelly took a pass from Wade Redden at 17:54 of the third to tie it up and send the Toronto fans into a stunned silence.

With the Leafs missing nine regulars -- including pesky winger Darcy Tucker -- and the Senators without top centres Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher, this game lacked some of its typical intensity until the third period and overtime.

Coming off back-to-back shutout performances against the Isles and Rangers, Emery made his third straight start and was simply outstanding -- the Leafs had plenty of chances.

Emery had to be strong because the Senators didn't get a lot of chances against Andrew Raycroft. Through the first 40 minutes, the Leafs outshot the Senators 33-18, but the game was tied 1-1.

"We've been getting big goals when we need them," said Emery. "Yes, we've had some trouble putting the puck in the net, but guys have stepped up at the right time to get the job done for us."

While Kelly might be getting a chance to be a No. 1 centre, it was his role as a penalty killer that set up the Senators' first goal that tied it up 1-1 at 5:37 of the second with Brian McGrattan in the penalty box.

Raycroft made the initial save on Kelly, but McAmmond slipped the rebound underneath him on the glove side to end a 15-game scoring drought that stretched back to Nov. 24 against Florida.

A high sticking double minor to Vermette set up the opening goal by Leafs' Alex Steen at 16:23 of the first period and ended Emery's shutout string.

Senators coach Bryan Murray was incensed with officials Ian Walsh and Dean Warren, who waited 40 seconds before penalizing Vermette.

Winger Chris Neil's left knee was still sore, but he went for a twirl in the morning, then took treatment all afternoon before deciding to play.

"We really did a good job of supporting each other and Ray Emery was just outstanding," said Senators coach Bryan Murray.

The Senators will face the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow at Scotiabank Place to ring in the New Year. Game time is 3 p.m.


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