Sens didn't want Shanahan in December

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

They're still not dead, of course, but last night the Senators were severely wounded by the stick of a 40-year-old they had no interest in signing -- even in their deepest, darkest days of December.

His name is Brendan Shanahan, who in an earlier life mocked their post-game stationary bike-riding cool-down by doing "the Ottawa interview" with an invisible stationary bike.

Last night, Shanahan teased the Senators again. This time, by splitting open Daniel Alfredsson's lips with a high-stick early in the third period. The double minor appeared to give the Senators hope of a comeback from a two-goal hole. But on a night when their second power-play unit became their first power-play unit, the Senators were suddenly in need of a third-power play and fourth power-play unit. The relentless yet seldom-used line of Jarkko Ruutu, Dean McAmmond and Chris Neil should have been given a shot. The higher-priced help not only couldn't get the job done, they didn't even show up for that particular four-minute shift of work.

Meanwhile, throwing a little insult to injury was Shanahan, who emerged from the penalty box to score his second goal in three games as a Devil. This one, with just over nine minutes remaining, finished off the lifeless home team.

"Sometimes, it's because the other team plays well," Alfredsson said when asked how the Senators could follow such a solid first and second period with such a lousy third in a game they so needed. "It's determination ... not getting the job done. I can't answer for the others. You say, 'why can't you get it done' ... it's just the way it is."

The Senators can't afford any type of a letdown, especially one that lasts a full period. Having used up all the slack on their rope, they are left clinging. If they care enough, they battle. If they don't, they go home. Last night, they packed it in early. Many more games like this one and they'll be packing it in for the season.

That's just the way it is.

Starts and stops

A third-period standing ovation was given to Cpl. William Kerr, who returned from Afghanistan after losing both legs and an arm. Among those saluting the hero were the Senators who had been sitting on the bench when the soldier appeared on the video board ... "Upon further review," referee Marc Joannette told the crowd during a stop in play at 4:54 of the first period, "the officials' ruling is correct. We have a good goal." Bull. Truth is, the Devils' ice-breaker was a garbage goal. Not just for the fact Brian Gionta's pass luckily banked in off Patrick Elias' skate, but because three Senators (Chris Kelly, Chris Phillips and Jesse Winchester) should have put the 5-foot-7 -- yeah, standing on a phone book, maybe) Gionta on his ear before he had a chance to make the play ... Gliding backward, Alexandre Picard one-timed a slap shot off a bouncing Alfredsson cross-ice pass into the top corner of the New Jersey net. And to think that, only minutes earlier, Picard said in a pre-taped video scoreboard feature that if he wasn't a hockey player, he'd like to be a "sports journalist." We're not very good at math, either. Picard and defensive partner Filip Kuba were minus-3 on the night.

Between periods

Zach Parise was sitting in the visiting dressing room surrounded by Devils' beat writers following the morning skate when Jamie Langenbrunner sauntered by and raised his eyebrows. "Back to reality nine," Langenbrunner said. "Back to reality." Parise, New Jersey's No. 9, made an all-star-like play on Langenbrunner's second goal. At the all-star game, Parise apparently took some heat from reporters who expected him to be able to speak French, like his famous father, J.P. Parise. "I think everybody expected it ... they were disappointed I wasn't able to," Zach said. "It's not my fault. It's not my fault." ... At or near the top of the list of things we don't need to see anymore on the centre-ice video board: A topless Stuntman Stu ... A photo of Jason Smith graced the front of the in-house publication handed out last night. With the veteran defenceman a healthy scratch, there are whispers of a Score Magazine Cover Curse ... Trying to catch up to Antoine Vermette for a 2-on-1, Phillips made a passionate sprint the full length of the ice all for not, unless you consider The Big Rig's snow-plow impersonation on Scott Clemmenson. With no rebound to be had, Phillips' goal total on the season remained at four. Yes, he has a horrible minus-21 rating, but he also has scored twice as many goals as friend Wade Redden ... Elliott did not have a great night, looking especially Gerber-ish on New Jersey's second goal. But overall? "You can't blame the goaltending for this," said coach Craig Hartsburg.

Things that make you go hmmm...

Alfredsson will wear a Team Canada sweater at today's practice, scheduled for the Kanata Recreation Centre, to fulfill a second world junior bet he had with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. Before the practice, Melnyk will address the media. It what might be a taste of things to come, Melnyk yesterday again told reporters he's not giving up hope. "You don't blow up a great organization. You blow up a crippled organization -- and this is not a crippled organization." ... Staying true to form, Mike Fisher dodged questions about his personal life. Asked about his all-star break, he said he just "hung out, relaxed and had a couple of workouts." Asked if he went anywhere, he smiled and replied in the negative. Home? "No." Toronto? "No." Nashville? "Not saying." Hmmm.

THE BOTTOM LINE

It was just last season that the Senators were among the many teams very interested in Swede Fabian Brunnstrom, considered the best player not in the NHL. After 31 games with the Stars, Brunnstom may once again be considered the best player not in the NHL. Yesterday, he was demoted to the Manitoba Moose.


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