Add penalty killing to list

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Very significant, it seemed at the time, was the high-sticking penalty Kanata's Cory Murphy took on Moscow's Anton Volchenkov at the 12:01 mark of the second period in last night's hockey game at The Bank.

For one, it limited a Florida Panthers power play to 24 seconds, which was exactly how much earlier Chris Neil had been sent off for holding.

The way the Senators penalty killing is going these days, that's a good thing, though it paled in comparison to what happened next.

With the teams playing 4-on-4, Chris Phillips finished off an odd-man rush by tapping home his fifth goal of the year.

That spelled money in the bank for those who wanted to get started constructing newspaper stories.

Entering this night, the Senators were 33-3-5-1 when The Big Rig scored over the past decade, and 24-1-5-1 when he potted one in the past seven seasons.

Suddenly, the slumping home team was in position to declare it Guarantee Win Night. But wait, these are very different times for Canada's Team. There are no guarantees.

For instance, their previously solid penalty killing units had surrendered three goals in 10 short-handed situations in outings leading into this one, against Toronto and Montreal. Their first two penalties last night, to Chris Kelly and Volchenkov, also were quickly translated into Panthers goals.

So with all your other concerns about the Senators, it's now safe to officially add their penalty killing to the list.

STARTS AND STOPS: And in other news, the Senators waited until after the game to announce that CEO and president Roy Mlakar has signed a one-year contract extension with the team. There was no mention of how much he's getting ... Coach Jacques Martin plans on taking his team to the canal for a skate today, in case you see a bunch of guys who look a lot like an improving NHL hockey team out there ... This one was not a big attraction for scouts, as only Calgary, St. Louis, Washington and Pittsburgh had birddogs registered in attendance ... We might be late on this, but it sounds like they've found a new song to celebrate Joe Corvo goals at Scotiabank Place. Catchy tune too, with the only lyrics sounding a lot like "Jooooooooooe Corvoooooooo" or "Uhhhhhhhhhhhh Ohhhhhhhhh." Take your pick ... Midway through the first period Nick Foligno stepped up and into Richard Zednik for a hit Florida broadcasters called "knee-on-knee." The Panthers sniper (he had three against Toronto on Tuesday) limped to the bench, but was back on in time for his next shift. Typical of the way things have been going for the Senators these days, eh? They can't even be dirty good ... Ray Emery was sharp enough in the first period, making 16 saves (including one off Chris Neil's skate on a centring pass) while his teammates were working a whole five pucks at Tomas Vokoun. The one that beat Emery set off the Panthers play-by-play man behind us. "The Booth, the Booth, the Booth is on fire!" he screams. David Booth's goal was his 15th of the year, but just his first in the past six games. So the fire was in fact just a little smoke ... Dany Heatley had a chance in the dying seconds to complete his hat trick and make accurate the prediction of a four-point night for the star winger that was on the Sun blog Off The Posts. "I don't take empty-netters," Heatley joked afterwards.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Murphy was the victim of some good natured Jason Spezza chirping after, as Spezza puts it, the Panthers defenceman "looked so hungry to get that eighth goal" in a whitewashing of the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. "I was just doing the same thing he'd be doing," Murphy said yesterday with a chuckle. "He sent me a text and let me hear about it." .... Dean McAmmond's oldest daughter Ashlyn is 16, or just four years younger than Foligno. Would you let her date a guy like Nick, Dean? "Not a chance in the world," said McAmmond. "Because I know what hockey players are like ... except for me." ... Don't let the four goals fool you. Emery was solid ... Also a contributor was Brian McGrattan, who had a three or four good shifts.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ..: Hey wait a second. The other day Heatley compared this column to something you would find in US Weekly. Until just now I thought it was a compliment. For that, I'm not even going to write about a funny behind-the-scenes incident in the dressing room yesterday involving Heatley, who cracked up Sportsnet's Ian Mendes about five times before "Tre" could complete his 1-on-1 interview with No. 15. You wouldn't learn about Heatley's quick wit and dry sense of humour in a regular old post-game hockey column, would you?

PARTING SHOTS: Overheard the Panthers beat writers after the morning skate planning to take in a matinee before the game. Go to a movie? Some of us Ottawa hockey scribes don't even have time to have a sit-down lunch when we're on the road. "No doubt they're a good team," Florida coach Martin was saying of the Senators in hauntingly familiar fashion around noon. "They're first in the conference. They will be a big challenge for us." With gems like that to quote and dissect, a guy has plenty of time to take in a flick or two.


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