A few Senators were out for dinner with an old friend in Chicago on Saturday night when Jason Spezza telegraphed his shot.
While breaking bread with Patrick Lalime, Spezza warned the Blackhawks goalie how he planned to beat him the next afternoon, should they meet face to face.
"I told Patty if I got a penalty shot, I was going to go glove," Spezza said yesterday, laughing and shaking his head.
Sure enough, the Senators let another third-period lead slip away and, as coach Bryan Murray's first pick in the shootout, Spezza kept true to his word.
"He was nowhere near it," said Spezza, recalling a quick flick of the wrists that sent the puck to Lalime's top left-hand corner, only to have it clang off the crossbar. "He didn't believe me, I guess.
"Like Philly (Chris Phillips) said, then it comes down to whether it's reverse psychology or it's reverse-reverse psychology," added the Senators centre, who chatted with Lalime again after the 4-3 loss.
"He said he thought I was going to fake top corner and go backhand. I said, 'No, I told you. I played with you for a couple of years. I know where I'm going, Patty.' "
Yes folks, that's how bad things are getting for the Senators in the exciting procedure used to settle games that are still tied after five minutes of overtime.
They can tell the opposing goalie what they are going to do. Not at the last second, either, but give him plenty of warning. Then, they can beat him doing it. And they still can't win.
"Thank God they don't have them in playoffs," Spezza said of the shootout.
Ottawa has lost its last two shootouts, and three of four in the past month.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, have gathered up an extra half-dozen points since Jan. 26 by winning their last six shootouts.
"That's the frustrating part about shootouts," said Murray, whose team is 2-3 in them this season. "I thought we had a chance with the people we had going (Sunday) and we don't win.
"I might let somebody use my stick next time."
Nothing else is working. Dany Heatley was the only one of four to score in the shootout Sunday. He is 1-2 on the season. Daniel Alfredsson was wide with his chance and is 0-1. Antoine Vermette tried to go five-hole and saw his record drop to 2-5. Dean McAmmond and Mike Fisher, both 1-3, were bypassed for Spezza, who is 0-2 this season and 0-4 for his career.
Spezza estimates he has "five or six breakaway goals" this season. As recently as last week, Scotiabank Place fans saw him calmly beat Carolina's Cam Ward on a clear-cut attempt with his go-to shot: High glove.
"I think a lot of it is luck and a lot of it is just coming in with confidence," said Spezza. ''(Against Ward) I was pretty sure what I wanted to do and I hit my spot. That one goes bar and in, last game it goes bar and out. I don't know how to explain that ... it's the same shot pretty much."
The Senators' shootout record is baffling, given the offensive talent in the lineup.
"That's been one of our weaknesses this year,'' said Spezza, ''and we're probably fighting with Buffalo if we were better at shootouts, if we won more shootouts. It definitely hurt us a little in the standings.
''But at the end of the day, teams aren't going to be hanging on to try and get us in a shootout in the playoffs."
THIS AND THAT: Patrick Eaves' parents had travelled from Wisconsin to Chicago, and his brother and his best friend's family were in from Minnesota. All told, 20 people came to see him play Sunday. When they got there, however, they found out Eaves was going to be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. "That's just the way it is," Eaves said yesterday. "It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was able to go sit with them during the game. And so we made the best of it as family and friends. It worked out really well." Eaves laughed at the suggestion he should have told Murray he had people there to watch him in action. "It never crossed my mind," he said. "It's about what we have to do to get points more than anything." ... Not only was Oleg Saprykin skating on the second line at practice yesterday, he was also on his preferred side. After playing right wing in his first three games as a Senator, he patrolled left wing with Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson. That's likely where Saprykin will line up against Pittsburgh tonight if Peter Schaefer (shoulder) is forced to sit out. "I play all my life on the left," said Saprykin, who scored his first goal as a Senator on Sunday. "I feel so much more comfortable on the left. I can play right, but that'd be great if I could get back (to the left)."