Heatley has simple goal

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Dany Heatley looked a little like the guy with a metal detector on a beach.

While teammates were scattered around the Bell Centre ice playing various games of keepaway, working on faceoffs or chatting casually, the Senators sniper ended yesterday's practice in full search mode.

Heatley's big stick was active as he one-timed slap shot after slap shot from the top of the right-wing faceoff circle, then he moved down low to his "office" at the side of the crease, where he relayed more of assistant coach Greg Carvel's feeds into the net.

Instead of keys or coins, Heatley was looking for his lost scoring touch.

"Just rhythm," he said of the hunt. "I do that every once in a while. I've been messing around with some sticks lately, so I just wanted to get a little feel back."

And did you?

"Well," he replied. "I guess we'll see."

Yes, tonight, in fact, when the Senators take on a Canadiens team that scored seven against Boston on Saturday and will no doubt be further revved up by the buzz of Larry Robinson number retirement night.

Ottawa will be coming off its first shutout loss in more than 11 months, a 3-0 whitewashing by the Maple Leafs that had coach John Paddock shuffling his deck like a blackjack dealer.

Paddock had another new set of lines at yesterday's early practice, and if he sticks with them as he suggested he might, Jason Spezza will be playing with Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly while Heatley, Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson will be together as they were when Spezza was injured.

To keep pace with the Habs, meanwhile, it figures the Senators are going to have to be a lot better offensively than they were at the ACC. And to that end, Heatley must claim a large share of the load.

A back-to-back 50-goal scorer who gets paid accordingly, he has lit the lamp once in his last 10 games. Nine assists, but only one goal.

The 21 points in 18 games is a decent pace, but Heatley has only scored eight thus far, and the Senators need his finish.

"I think it's always a concern if he doesn't score. He's a big-time player for us and a big goal scorer," said Paddock. "He's one of the elite goal scorers in the game. It's a concern, but it's a thing he's got to work out of and the team's got to work out of ...

"I wish he was scoring, but we've only lost two games in that time, that he's not scored. That's the good news. He'll produce, starting (tonight) or something, we'll get a big goal from him when we need a big goal to win."

Paddock split up the big line of Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson early in the second period Saturday, putting Heatley with Fisher and Randy Robitaille.

"I don't think they were very good (Saturday) night," he said of his stars, before adding specifically of Heatley: "There's been games when he's been really, really good and wasn't scoring."

Heatley, who has 188 goals in 372 NHL games, knows better than to get down.

"No," he said when asked if he's concerned, "because history has told me that eventually you're going to score. But it's always frustrating when you go a couple of games, so ... you've just got to stay positive mentally and keep getting chances."


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