Up and down night

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

It didn't take Randy Robitaille long to equal Jason Spezza's output in the goal department.

Just one shift into the game.

It didn't take Robitaille long to surpass Spezza's goal output.

Just one shift into the second period.

Robitaille, the Ottawa native who was signed as a free agent after a curtailed excursion to Russia, gave the Senators a 2-0 lead against the Atlanta Thrashers last night.

The 32-year-old journeyman (74 goals in 466 career games going into last night) was playing in the middle between Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley in what surely has become the most coveted spot in the NHL as Spezza is sidelined with a groin injury.

But in what turned out to be a brutal piece of bad luck, Robitaille was knocked down and out of the game in the second as he was hunting for his third goal.

He took the puck to the front of the net and took a heavy hit from Atlanta defenceman Garnet Exelby. The defenceman got his arms up on the hit, which wasn't penalized, and caught Robitaille on the side of the head.

Robitaille was obviously stunned because he remained on the ice until play was stopped.

He got up, skated off the ice and went to the Senators' dressing room. The club announced he suffered facial contusions. He did not return.

Mike Fisher was then moved up to play with Heatley and Alfredsson and he picked up an assist when Alfredsson scored his team-leading eighth goal late in the second period on a great setup from Heatley from behind the net.

HEAR AND THERE

Thrashers forward Marian Hossa had just two goals and an assist going into last night's game and the Senators' coaching staff didn't have much sympathy. He was up against the shutdown duo of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov in the early going. Phillips stood Hossa stood up at the Ottawa line on his first two trips up the ice ... With enforcer Brian McGrattan out of the lineup, Senators Chris Neil and Luke Richardson handled the fistic business last night when the trailing Thrashers did the predictable. Neil's scrap with Eric Boulton was punctuated by Neil taking the time to encourage the crowd with his right hand.

REVELATIONS

Last night's crowd at Scotiabank Place was one of the quietest in recent memory early in the game. Odds are the quiet fans were making the Thrashers feel at home ... One of the things Thrashers GM/interim coach Don Waddell has done since taking over behind the bench is give more ice time to star Ilya Kovalchuk. Under former coach Bob Hartley, Kovalchuk topped out at 21:39. In six games under Waddell, Kovalchuk has played as much as 26:35 and is coming off a game against Montreal in which he played 23:50 ... Kovalchuk had four points in the first six games of the season. He's had eight in the six games under Waddell.

SPECULATIONS

Maybe what the Thrashers need is the schedule maker to give them more games against the Original Six. The Thrashers went into last night's game with four wins in the their last six games and all four came against Original Six teams: The Rangers, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Canadiens. They don't play another "O" team until Nov. 29 when they host the Leafs ... The Senators are starting a key stretch in which they will play eight of their next nine games against Northeast Division opponents ... If the idea was to get Senators goaltender Ray Emery some work, he's still waiting. The Thrashers had six shots through two periods.

THE BUZZ

Tough shift, meet Christoph Schubert: Playing forward last night, Schubert got knocked on his derriere by Atlanta's Jim Slater as he took a hit to protect the puck, then took Phillips' clearing attempt in the face. Ouch ... Bad night, meet Bobby Holik: The Thrashers veteran centre just handed the puck over to Ottawa rookie Nick Foligno in the second period, leading to Foligno's second goal of the season ... Waddell said he will take his time in his hunt for a new coach. There's a feeling in the Thrashers' camp the job could wind up in the hands of assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, at least until the end of the year.

JUST WONDERING

What was Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg doing on Robitaille's second goal? Hedberg was halfway to Thrashers bench on the play, leaving Robitaille only to shift around him and tuck it in the empty net ... Hedberg went all the way to the Thrashers' bench after fanning on Foligno's shot in the second, bringing on backup Ondrej Pavelec.

TIMEOUT

While there has been lots of speculation about an imminent deal between the Senators and Spezza, about all the two sides have agreed on so far is the Senators want Spezza and he'd like to stay in Ottawa. The serious number-crunching hasn't begun yet, apparently.


Videos

Photos