Win 200 has Hartsburg smiling

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

His Senators having just disposed of the Capitals, Craig Hartsburg was asked how it felt to record career win No. 2,000.

The reporter quickly corrected his own mistake and changed the number to 200.

"I wish it was 2,000," Hartsburg cracked. "I'd be worth a lot more money."

Everybody's chuckling and guffawing a lot more at Scotiabank Place these days, with the home team claiming seven of the last eight points up for grabs and threatening to make something of this season yet.

"It's a big difference," Antoine Vermette said when asked how much more fun it is to come to the rink. "You try to be positive when things don't go your way, but when they do, it just comes naturally."

A big reason for the Senators' improved play is the goaltending they're getting from Brian Elliott, who was supposed to be heading to the AHL all-star game Sunday.

"I'm not assuming anything," Elliott said, immediatley after stopping 29-of-31 shots, adding that he had not been told as of that moment that he wasn't being sent down. "I'm taking it day-by-day."

Somehow, Hartsburg managed to win 199 games without following the advice of Cheapseats, but we're taking credit for last night's milestone victory because we told the coach he should have been using Brendan Bell all along.

Today, we'll do the job of GM Bryan Murray. Forget the AHL all-star game, Elliott. You're not going anywhere.

STARTS AND STOPS

In a dressing room full of Washington, D.C., citizens as Barack Obama was delivering his inauguration speech, only four people were intently listening to what the new president was saying -- three Canadian reporters and Bedford, Ind., native Donald Brashear. Asked if he would have attended the Capitol Hill ceremony, the Caps tough guy responded with a definite nope. "It'd be cool," said Brashear. "But it's too cold." ... From his seat on the bench, W Nick Foligno was skaking his head and saying "no" while he was being announced as the scorer of Ottawa's second goal, then stood up to tell ref Mike Hasenfratz that the Dany Heatley shot went off a Capital's skate, not his own stick. A period later, Foligno was raising his hands with an emphatic "yes" to celebrate a shot of his that he thought went in, only to realize it had rung off the crossbar ... Mike Fisher, who can't remember the last time (before last night) that he started a game on right wing, almost started a riot with his knee-on-knee hit of Capitals star W Alex Ovechkin. Too bad he didn't. We were kinda hoping to see Alexander Semin fight in person ... Earlier in the day, Fisher fielded almost as many questions about his all-star break plans as he did about his position switch. Not once did he mention the name Carrie Underwood. "I'm going to rejuvenate myself," said Fisher. That's it, that's all ... D Alexandre Picard was either legitimately stunned or looking for a penalty (or both) on Washington's second goal, after David Steckel gave him a shot in the head before putting the finishing touches on a nice passing play. It was no time for Picard to do an Alex Kovalev impersonation.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Exactly what was D Filip Kuba thinking, trying to shoot the puck straight up the middle of the ice from behind his net with six Caps pressing for the equalizer? It almost cost the Senators the regulation-time win. In the words (okay, not the exact words) of our favourite coach, there are only three things you do in a situation like that. "You fire it off the glass," he said, "you screw off, or you screw off." ... Ovechkin was on the ice for 10:25 of the 20 minutes in the third period. And somehow, he didn't get a point ... They don't call Bruce Boudreau "Gabby" for nothing. Among the Washington coach's most quotable moments after the morning skate: 1. About the inauguration. "If you've seen Washington traffic, that's the last place you want to be. It's a pretty exciting day, and I'm glad to be where I am right now." 2. About D Mike Green. "He's going to be the best. I don't want to put pressure on him, but it wouldn't surprise me if he gets 82-plus points one year. I don't think that's happened in a while. (Note: Nicklas Lidstrom had 80 points in 80 games in 2005-06, but you have to go back a full decade to find a defenceman who had 82 points, to when Ray Bourque racked up exactly that many in 82 games during the 1995-96 season) .... Boudreau has two kids in Ottawa. Daughter Kasey work for the 67's. Son Andy goes to Carleton. What's he takin', Gabby? "I don't know," he said. "Philosophy or somethin'." ... Ovechkin on Boudreau. "He's a really funny guy. He loves his job. He's as crazy as we are. He's screaming all the time, probably. Maybe he's nervous."

IT MAKES YOU GO HMM:

Shean Donovan sheepishly answered questions about the lower-body injury he sustained while wiping out on the third turn and crashing hard into the boards during Sunday's skills competition. "I would have got up if I had broken my leg in seven places. That was embarrassing," said Donovan, who pulled himself to his feet and slowly finished the rest of the lap, only to dive across the finish line and cut his forehead in the process. "I was trying to make up for silliness with more silliness." ... After missing the first 43 games recovering from a serious car accident, it was good to see Senators media relations guy Chris Moore back on the job yesterday ... With newcomer Peter Regin's locker stall right beside Chris Kelly's, one visitor yesterday glanced up at the nameplates quickly and saw Regis and Kelly ... Reader Michel Roy points out that Claude Julien is not the only member of his family coaching in an all-star game this weekend. His brother Richard will be coach of the Western Conference team for the Jr. C all-star game on Saturday.


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