Heatley in tough to repeat nifty 50

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

TAMPA, FLA. -- Dany Heatley would love to complete another 50-goal season.

But he's not making any guarantees.

The Senators winger moved a step closer to becoming the first player since Florida's Pavel Bure in 2000-01 to have consecutive 50-goal seasons with his 43rd in a 4-2 win over the Panthers Thursday.

To repeat the nifty 50 feat, Heatley will have to go on a goal-a-game pace in the club's final seven regular-season outings, starting tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Petes Times-Forum.

"It's going to be tough," Heatley said yesterday. "I try not to think about it too much. I'll just try to shoot as often as I can. Usually when I shoot a lot, I score some goals."

SCORING STREAKS

But it's not impossible.

Heatley has gone on scoring streaks in the past. He ended a five-game drought Thursday, the fourth time Heatley has gone five games without a goal this season. The last such stretch was Dec. 23-Jan. 1, and he came back with eight goals in the next six games. He also followed up his first five-game drought with seven goals in five games.

"It would be a lot for him and his career," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "The recognition of being able to do that is a big deal. We talk a lot about guys who are able to score 50 goals. There's not a lot of them anymore.

"Whether he can get there or not, I don't know. I'm going to try to play our lineup the way we have been and use a lot of players down the stretch. I'll try to give some special consideration, if we have an empty net and we're winning by eight. Beyond that, he's got to do it, with his linemates."

Bolts forward Vinny Lecavalier can also join the 50-goal club with one tonight against the Senators.

Heatley said he's trying not to focus on getting 50.

"I'm not really thinking about it at this point," he said. "I'm just trying to skate with the other guys. If we're skating and moving the puck, then we're going to get a lot of chances. We'll see.

"I've said all along, it's a big number for a goal scorer and I'd like to do it two (times) in a row, that would be great. Like I said, I can't control it. I'm just going to keep shooting and hopefully I get there. If not, it'll be okay."

FINISHING STRONG: Murray is focused on ensuring the club continues to play well down the stretch. "We want the guys in great form going into the playoffs," he said. "That means, trying to have the line combinations somewhat close to what we're doing. There's some little things that we talk about regularly, but we emphasize a little bit more at this time of year." Murray said it's important to keep playing well. "If you win, you're pushing them too hard, and if you lose, you're no damn good. For me, it's about getting in a habit of playing hard and well every night. I don't think, at this time of year, there's any such thing as peaking too early. The more you win, the more confidence you have and the more ability you have going into the playoffs. I know the question because I've been accused of getting 100 points and then not doing anything in the playoffs. Well, there are no guarantees either way."

OFF THE GLASS: Senators RW Chris Neil, D Wade Redden and RW Daniel Alfredsson didn't take part in the club's practice in Fort Lauderdale yesterday before a one-hour flight here. Murray said all three were simply resting bumps and bruises, and should suit up tonight. "You want to make sure guys are healthy and you have to give them the day off when you have the chance," said Murray. Neil and Redden may have still been hurting from a collision in the third period when they went to hit the same Florida player and ended up banging into each other ... G Ray Emery is expected to start against the Bolts tonight. He made 35 saves in the victory over the Panthers.


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