Shannon finds a home

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

The best line of the night was delivered by the right winger on the best line of the night.

"It's nice coming to practice and knowing all the drills," Ryan Shannon told a small group of reporters Saturday, moments after the Senators beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout. "It's like everybody else is the call-up."

In fact, all but five of the individuals who were involved in Ottawa's 18th win (a benchmark last season's Senators hit exactly two months earlier, on Dec. 7, for those fond of reminiscing) actually started the 2008-09 campaign in the NHL.

Riding to the rescue from Binghamton have been goalie Brian Elliott, defencemen Brian Lee and Brendan Bell, Shannon and coach Cory Clouston, who now has his first NHL victory.

While Elliott made 28 saves and was the game's first star, Lee ate up 25:14 of ice time as the second-most utilized Senator and Bell, who played 20:30, took the power-play point shot that Nick Foligno deflected home for the night's first goal.

Shannon is one of six who have been recalled from the farm for an audition at forward, and Clouston said following Saturday's victory that the 5-foot-9, 178-lb. speedster will accompany the team on the five-games-in-seven-days road trip that begins Wednesday in Buffalo.

It would have been a surprise had he stated otherwise.

The Shannon-Mike Fisher-Foligno line was a constant force against the Sabres.

Clouston said the players complement each other.

'HE CREATES ENERGY'

"They bring a little bit of something. Each guy has a little bit of something else," said Clouston. "Fish is obviously a big, strong power forward. Ryan is playing up here like he did for me in Binghamton. He creates energy, he's very strong on the forecheck, very quick, cycles the puck extremely well. And Nick kind of does a little bit of everything. He's strong around the net, very good set of hands, good vision."

Shannon, who might remind hockey fans over 30 of a young Russ Courtnall, is a Bryan Murray trade acquisition (for Lawrence Nycholat) that could work out nicely. A veteran of 84 NHL games, he was knocked out of his Nov. 13 Senators debut with a concussion, then, after spending six on the sidelines, saw spot duty when he returned.

The Senators decided to send Shannon back to Bingo the next day rather than keep him here in a fourth-line role, and for Clouston and the Baby Senators, he starred.

In 36 games for Binghamton, Shannon had 10 goals and 35 points.

"I feel like I have more energy," Shannon, who had 17:40 of ice time Saturday, said of this turn in Ottawa.

Shannon says his confidence could stem from the fact he's now fully recovered from the concussion, plus the familiarity of playing for Clouston.

"He's a structured coach," Shannon said of Ottawa's new bench boss. "Talks a lot about where he wants us to be, positionally. Talks about accountability. If you make a mistake, you do hear about it. But he's really upbeat, he brings a lot of energy.

"I don't know if you can hear him behind the bench, but when somebody makes a good play, he's cheering just like everybody else behind the bench. That positive energy kind of spreads throughout the team."

With the Senators having scored a league-low 69 even-strength goals this season, Shannon has to produce to stay in the NHL. First in Anaheim and then in Vancouver, he couldn't and didn't. In 84 NHL games, he has just seven goals. For a guy in his position, it's not enough.

"I think it's a great opportunity for myself," Shannon said of his new line. "I've got to find the back of the net at some point, get some 5-on-5 goals. I know this window of opportunity is not going to be there very long. I've got to do something with it."


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