Heatley: 'A win is a win'

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

The Senators ushered in the Craig Hartsburg era with a victory last night at Scotiabank Place.

After being hired to take over last June, the Senators coach was able to smile after a 3-2 pre-season opening win over the New York Rangers in front of 17,616 spectators.

It will be meaningless when the puck is dropped for real, but Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Mike Fisher scored the goals, while goaltender Martin Gerber made 23 saves in his 40 minutes of work.

Hartsburg said there is still plenty of work to do, especially after the Rangers had 11 power plays.

"I think we showed some things, but the whole game was a little sloppy," said Hartsburg. "There are two areas we have to really fix.

"There are penalties we can't take. There are always going to be calls you're going to question, but there are way too many stick penalties. We have to eliminate those reaching, little slashes because they don't do anything.

"The other area is turnovers. We have to be a better team protecting the puck. You don't always have to make a great play, but we seemed like we lost a lot of those little battles."

While this was supposed to be an opportunity for Nick Foligno to play centre between Antoine Vermette and Daniel Alfredsson, his chance took a hit when the captain was a last-minute scratch.

Alfredsson experienced some tightness in his hip and groin and Hartsburg decided not to take any chances in a pre-season game. Ryan Shannon, acquired from Vancouver, dressed instead.

"He's day-to-day. I don't think it's anything serious. It's just some tightness. If this was a regular-season game, he would probably have played, but there was no sense taking a chance," said Hartsburg, who added Alfredsson won't play tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.

As for Gerber, he was solid before being replaced by rookie Brian Elliott in the third. Since there isn't going to be any debate about who will be the No. 1 goalie this season, the pre-season is about getting Gerber tuned up.

The Rangers tested Gerber after the Senators surrendered nine power plays in the first two periods -- including two two-man advantages. Only Brandon Dubinsky was able to solve Gerber at 3:21 of the second on the power play.

Dubinksy scored his second of the game on a short-handed breakaway at 15:16 of the third. That came with Elliott in net.

"We got the win. It was kind of sloppy, but a win is a win," said Heatley.

Since the pre-season is a chance to try all kinds of different combinations, it was odd to see Spezza score his first goal of the year at 13:17 of the first with a backhander on a short-handed breakaway.

Coming off the bench as the extra attacker on a delayed penalty call, Heatley opened the scoring at 2:57 of the first. He took a pass from Jason Smith and fired a bullet by Valiquette on the glove side.

"Heater and I have talked about wanting to kill more penalties this year. It's a responsibility that we want to take on because it's a good way for us to contribute and do some stuff for the team. It may cut some of our ice time 5-on-5, but I think it's a good thing for us to be doing," said Spezza.


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