You've got to hand it to Saprykin

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

CHICAGO -- There's really only one way to describe Oleg Saprykin's first goal as a Senator.

It was a nice Freakin' shot -- even if he was playing it down afterward.

"I don't think you can pick the hole in that situation," Saprykin said with a slight smile. "I was just trying to put it up top."

Well, he did a heckuva job at that then.

Playing in his third game since being acquired at last Tuesday's deadline, Freakin' Saprykin easily enjoyed his finest moments in an Ottawa jersey during yesterday's shootout loss to the Blackhawks.

He skated better. He was more involved. He produced. And he was rewarded.

His 11:38 of ice time even included a minute on the power play. And he made the most of that, creating the havoc in front of Chicago goalie Patrick Lalime as Dany Heatley shot and Daniel Alfredsson converted the rebound on Ottawa's second goal.

But it was in making his first mark on the scoresheet as a Senator that the Russian might have delivered coach Bryan Murray some food for thought. At 11:14 of the opening period and standing along the goal line to the left of where Lalime was hugging his post, Saprykin found a small hole just under the crossbar. Deftly, he flicked his wrists, sending the puck to the net's roof and pulling the Senators out of a 1-0 hole.

"It's too bad we lost in the shootout," said Saprykin. "It would be nice to have that goal and a win."

Maybe next time he gets a chance to try that Freakin' shot in a shootout.

STARTS AND STOPS: Chris Phillips was sitting on the bench minding his own business when he suddenly felt excruciating pain in his hand. It came from the big goalie stick of Martin Gerber, who had skated over to the bench on a delayed penalty call and was giving his favourite No. 4 a congratulatory tap for work well done on a penalty kill. Y'know how sometimes even a little contact with something can get you in just the wrong spot? That's what happened to Phillips. "I think we should stick to high-fives from now on," he said with a chuckle afterward ... It's still cool how they clap and cheer through the entire Star Spangled Banner at the United Center. Must be quite a charge when the arena is packed, not one-third full like it was yesterday ... So Marty Havlat, what's the best thing about playing in Chicago? "You can forget about hockey if you really need to," the former Senator said yesterday. Sounds like some of the long suffering fans here could also use a break. "Excuse me sir, you lost something," we told one of the paying customers upon noticing he had dropped the giveaway bag with the 'Hawks logo on the floor of the main concourse. "Thanks, I'm probably going to need that later," he said, retracing his steps and bending down to pick it up. "For when I get sick." ... Havlat also says he's lucky to be able to start his career where he did. "Every Canadian city, wherever you go, people are talking hockey, they know their hockey. It's a religion," he said. "For a young guy, the best thing is to be drafted by a Canadian team, or at least have one chance to play for a Canadian team. I had a lot of fun there."

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: The team may be near the bottom of the standings, but the Blackhawks' Ice Girls have to be the best in the league. They should be called the Ice Melters, they're so hot ... Rode the elevator from the press box yesterday with Scotty Bowman. Unless he's working for a team that we don't know about, now seems as good a time as any to start the rumour he was in town interviewing for a job with the 'Hawks. Old Scotty doesn't look so old ... Christoph Schubert was dropped back to defence when Anton Volchenkov took a third-period hooking penalty. Trying to fill some big shoes, the S-Train hammered James Wisniewski, leaving the Chicago defenceman in a heap.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Spezza was dangled by Havlat inside the Ottawa blue line late in the first period. And somewhere, Sheldon Souray was having himself a giggle ... Anyone see Gerber's jock? He lost it on Jeff Hamilton's shootout deke.

BOTTOM SHELF: The game-tying goal that was first credited to Brent Seabrook was later changed to Radim Vrbata's. It will go back to Seabrook if it is further reviewed and one guy in the media room who appeared to be a photographer (Seabrook's agent in disguise?) has his way. This fellow was livid ... The worst thing about Patrick Eaves being a healthy scratch yesterday -- his family travelled to Chicago to watch him play ... With Ottawa up 3-1, a shot by Havlat headed for the open net appeared to go off the lunging Gerber's stick shaft. He certainly didn't have that kind of luck earlier this season ... Did Andrej Meszaros do the right thing by jumping Rene Bourque when he hit Gerber? Obviously, but the Senators paid a hefty price, as the 'Hawks tied the game on the ensuing 4-on-4.


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