Heatley's award caps Sens' month

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

It was a month to remember for Dany Heatley.

The Senators winger, who led the league with 11 goals and 11 assists in 13 games last month, was named yesterday as the NHL's No. 1 star for the month of January. He finished ahead of Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo.

Tack on the fact that Ottawa also had a 9-3-1 record last month -- most of it without injured centres Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher -- and January was truly impressive.

DID IT WITHOUT SPEZZA

"It was a good month for the team, a lot of the guys played well and we had a lot of wins, and I was glad to be a part of it," said Heatley.

Heatley played mostly on a line with centre Chris Kelly and captain Daniel Alfredsson. That was an adjustment for Heatley, who has played most of his Ottawa career with Spezza in the middle.

"Coming into January, we knew we had to have a huge month and we put together a good string -- especially when a lot of guys went down," said Heatley. "Guys battled through. Certain guys stepped up and we got the job done in January."

TROUBLE FOR THE TOUGH GUY?: W Brian McGrattan is going to have to get used to being in and out of the lineup the rest of the season. He was a healthy scratch against the Capitals on Tuesday and that's probably the way it's going to stay while the club is healthy. "I've told Brian that if he's going to be in the lineup, he's got to be able to do more than just drop the gloves," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "He understands that. That's why he's been working hard and trying to improve on being able to play the game. Is he doing that? I think so. He's out there every day after practice and he's working. That's important because you need those guys to be able to contribute. Do I want him in the lineup right now more than Patrick Eaves or Christoph Schubert? I don't know about that right now." However, if McGrattan had been in the lineup against Washington, Caps enforcer Donald Brashear might have thought twice before elbowing Senators D Wade Redden in the face in the second period. "Brian McGrattan has tried to fight Donald Brashear three times this season and Donald Brashear doesn't want to fight any more. He thinks he's a player and he wants to get points now," said Murray. "If Brasher isn't going to fight McGrattan, then there's not much that you can do. There were some fights early in the season, but the number of fights are going down because teams are going to be careful with the fight for playoff spots. There used to be a time where you could just have somebody go get a guy," said Murray. "Now, it's not like that. You risk being kicked out of the game."

KUDOS FOR KILLER: Murray respects the accomplishments of 67's coach Brian Kilrea, who will step behind the bench for his 2,000th regular-season game tonight against the St. Mike's Majors at the Civic Centre. Murray, a Shawville native who has coached 1,192 career games in the NHL, said Kilrea should be proud of his longevity in a career where the guy behind the bench is usually the one who pays the price when things go wrong. "It's really tremendous when you think about it," said Murray, the NHL's current longest-serving coach. "It's a tremendous achievement when you think of what he's done. He's had so many accomplishments in junior hockey and you think of the young men he's sent to the NHL and the tremendous experience they talk about having when they leave Ottawa. Quite often, the coach is the first one to get blamed when a team isn't playing well, but he's become an icon behind that bench. He's had so much success. People have nothing but good things to say about Brian Kilrea. This is just a great accomplishment."


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