Lots of coin sitting at end of benches

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

There was a lot of bank at the end of the benches last night when the Senators and Panthers met at Scotiabank Place.

Looking down from the Cheapseats, the backup to the left for the Senators was Martin Gerber (2008-09 salary: $3.7 million all terms US) and to the right, Tomas Vokoun for the Panthers (2008-09 salary: $5.5 million).

On the ice were Alex Auld for the Senators ($1 million) and Craig Anderson for the Panthers ($575,000).

That meant there was $9.2 million in salary watching the guys making a combined $1.57 million defend the blue paint (and it wasn't a rare occurrence. Auld was starting his 11th straight and Anderson his sixth).

Anderson prevailed in the end, making an outstanding stop in overtime on a point-blank chance by Senator Mike Fisher just before Florida's Stephen Weiss scored from 56 feet with 9.1 seconds left in OT for the 4-3 Florida win.

Anderson slid over to get his stick and pad on Fisher's shot off a saucer pass by Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. It's the kind of stop he's been making a lot lately as he's wrestled the starter's job from Vokoun.

"Our defenceman (Bryan McCabe) did a great job anticipating the play, taking away the direct pass and most of the shot. Any time the puck is in the air, the goalie has time to get across," said Anderson.

"He's been our best player," said Weiss of the 27-year-old Anderson, who should have a soft spot for Ottawa. His remarkable ride this season started with a 41-save win here Oct. 22.

There are not many folks who would have expected Auld and Anderson to be the opposing goaltenders in December (coincidence: they were together in Florida during the 2006-07 season), and not many folks probably would have expected the two of them to be in the top 10 in GAA (Auld, 1.97; Anderson, 2.03) or save percentage (Anderson led the NHL going into the game at .943 and Auld was seventh at .926), heading into play last night.

The fact is, Auld and Anderson are two of the poster boys for the year of the backup goaltender in the NHL. With superstars Martin Brodeur of the Devils and Roberto Luongo of the Canucks on the shelf with elbow and groin injuries, respectively, the headlines and statistical categories have been dominated by a bunch of no-names, retreads, emerging stars and unknowns.

Also in the top 10 in GAA going into last night's games were Jonas Hiller of the Ducks, Dany Sabourin of the Penguins and Brian Boucher of the Sharks.

It used to be unless you had a name in net, you didn't have a chance in this league.

Names now don't seem to matter.

HEAR AND THERE

That shot in overtime was Fisher's ninth of the night. No wonder Anderson figured out what he was going to do ... The Panthers were starting a four-game Canadian swing last night. The temperature was about -18C when they got to the rink last night, a fine welcome to the Great White North for the boys from South Florida. The temperature in Sunrise, Fla? A nice 20C with a high today of 26C ... Senators W Chris Neil had another scrap last night, dropping the gloves with Florida callup Tanner Glass. It came right off a faceoff at centre ice, meaning Neil didn't have to worry this time about a Senators defenceman ripping a point shot off the inside of his foot just as he was dropping the gloves, which is what happened Saturday ... D Anton Volchenkov led the Senators with a whopping eight hits, the last one landing him in the penalty box for boarding Florida's Brett McLean.

THE BUZZ

Last night's goaltending crew doesn't have to spend much of their hard-earned dough on haircuts. Vokoun, Anderson and Auld have the shaved domes and Gerber is getting there. As one who is follicly challenged myself, I can say it's a great look ... Gerber might be getting a little thin on top, but he just might be winning the moustache-growing contest the Senators have going on right now...Ottawa's Chris Kelly got his second goal of the season on a full-out dive on his stomach to get his stick on a loose puck in the crease. It was an act of desperation which, well, you would expect from a guy who only had one goal.

REVELATIONS

Senators C Jason Spezza is finding the fishing good at that hole beside the right post in the east end of Scotiabank Place. He banked one in off Kris Letang of the Penguins on Saturday and last night he got a rebound off the backboards he managed to sneak by Anderson, almost from the same spot ... D Filip Kuba led the Senators in giveaways last night with three, the last one leading to Weiss' winner.

JUST WONDERING

What happened to the old Senators theme music? They've got some kind of generic rock track that welcomes the team onto the ice now for the warmup. AC-DC's Back in Black welcomed them for the start of the game, which is fine since they were wearing their new third jerseys again last night. I miss the old theme. It has some tradition to it and for a team that's got a relatively short history, whatever tradition you've got shouldn't be squandered.


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