Well, we've gone from John Paddock's "win and you're in" approach when it comes to picking a goaltender to "lose and I choose."
The Senators coach's hunch on playing Ray Emery, who got his second straight start last night, despite losing his last time out, paid off with a strong performance by the goalie in a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place.
Emery, who was beaten on a couple of deflections, benefited from an improved defensive effort from his teammates, who allowed the reeling Flyers just 21 shots in regulation time before all hell broke loose in overtime.
Both Emery and Philly goaltender Martin Biron were outstanding in the gripping overtime.
"We would have really liked to have finished it off with the lead in the third period," said Emery. "In the shootout, we scored when we needed to score and they missed some shots and had some trouble."
Antoine Vermette and Jason Spezza scored for the Senators in the shootout and Emery, who was beaten by Kimmo Timonen, stopped Daniel Briere on the Flyers' final attempt to give the Senators the win.
KEEP PACE WITH HABS
The win allowed the Senators to keep pace atop the Northeast Division with the Montreal Canadiens, who roared back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the New York Rangers 6-5 in a shootout.
"(Emery) played well and made some big saves, some key saves near the end which was much-needed on our part," said Vermette. "After that funny bounce on the second goal, he didn't get down and came back strong."
Okay, so the Senators beat the Flyers, who lost their eighth straight game, but the Senators, who haven't exactly been doing their imitation of the 1976-77 Canadiens lately, aren't in any position to be picky. The win snapped the Senators' three-game losing streak.
"Under the circumstances, it's very good to get the win, period," said Paddock. "I thought we had a lot of energy. We could have made some smarter plays at times. But we'll take the two points and get ready for the next game."
The power play still stinks (now on an 0-for-14 slide), but there were other positive signs. Emery played well. Both the Flyers goals came on deflections -- Timonen short-handed and by Scottie Upshall -- to erase Ottawa's 2-0 lead on goals by Chris Kelly (short-handed) and Vermette. Emery was strong during a Flyers 5-on-3 power play in the third which saw Ottawa's Claude Giroux -- making his NHL debut -- miss a couple of glorious chances. Giroux also failed to score in the shootout.
The Flyers looked dead in the water in the first period, managing just three shots.
Kelly did a good Sidney Crosby imitation when he broke away with the Senators short-handed less than three minutes into the game. Kelly was the beneficiary of a pass onto his stick inside his own blue line and caught defender Randy Jones flat-footed.
He skated in on Biron, gave him the fake leg pump (made famous by Crosby on a shootout goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore in the 2005-06 season) and then lifted a backhand over Biron's glove hand. It was the kind of start that has been lacking from the Senators' game lately.
The goal, at 2:38 of the first, was Kelly's 11th of the season and the Senators' 12th shortie of the season, tying them with the Chicago Blackhawks for the most in the league.
New Senator Cory Stillman had a strong game. Paddock had been moving him around to see if he could find some chemistry and it looks like they might have found it with Kelly and Vermette.