October 28, 2008
That's more like it!Sens halt longest losing streak in seven years ... Sabre yells for Neil in hallway
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA
BUFFALO -- While the Senators were thrilled to finally win again, one Sabre was clearly rattled.
Stuck in a four-game losing skid and scheduled to visit owner Eugene Melnyk at his ranch in Ocala, Fla., today, the Senators won 5-2 over the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena.
There was an incident in the hallway near the end of the game. Buffalo's Adam Mair, who had been booted out, marched down the hallway screaming for Chris Neil and had to be restrained. Senators winger Jarrko Ruutu chirped back, but Mair returned to his dressing room because Neil was still on the ice.
"I heard about it," said Neil, who has a long history with Mair. "Maybe he was trying to take a 10-game suspension because he's already had two of those. He obviously doesn't like getting paid. I wish I had been here. He was mad because I was chirping at him."
Off to their worst start since the lockout-shortened season in 1995 when they were 0-6-2 after eight games, the Senators faced the prospect of possibly falling into last place overall.
'BIG ONE FOR US'
"That was a big one for us. We needed that," said Jason Spezza, who had two goals and an assist. "It's frustrating when we lose a few in a row. It's always nice to go see the owner with a win under our belts. Now we'll be able to go there and relax."
While Alex Auld had his shutout bid halted by two late third-period goals, the Senators made life miserable for former teammate Patrick Lalime, making his third start of the season in the Buffalo net.
Dany Heatley and captain Daniel Alfredsson each had two-point nights, while Christoph Schubert and Shean Donovan also scored to help Senators halt their longest losing streak in seven years.
Making his third straight start, Auld did a standout job and was only beaten by Clarke MacArthur and Derek Roy. Auld, who will start again Thursday in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers, now has two of the club's three wins.
"It's a huge win for us, especially against a team that has had that kind of start," said Auld.
Searching for offence, coach Craig Hartsburg changed the forward lines.
Heatley moved to the right side of Spezza and Antoine Vermette, while Alfredsson skated with Mike Fisher and Nick Foligno. The third line was Ruutu, Chris Kelly and Neil. Jesse Winchester dropped to the fourth line with Dean McAmmond and Donovan.
The moves worked. While three of the club's four goals in the first 40 minutes came on the power play, the Senators were skating better, controlling the play and looked like they finally had a sense of urgency.
"I don't think it's a relief (to win)," said Hartsburg.
"Winning should never be a relief. We knew we had to do some things to tighten some things up and we did a good job."
For only the second time since returning from Sweden to open the season, the Senators held the lead after 20 minutes.
Neil went toe-to-toe with Buffalo's Andrew Peters in the third period after Patrick Kaleta took a run at Filip Kuba. Kaleta wouldn't fight Jason Smith, but later fought Ruutu.
"We know how to play. We just have to play like that every night," said Fisher.