Ex-Islanders team up for winner

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

As they finished with their respective post-game interviews, the two ex-Islanders passed each other just outside the Ottawa weight room.

"You're welcome," Mike Comrie said to Chris Campoli.

After combining for the game-winner in last night's 4-2 disposal of the Edmonton Oilers, the two newest (active) Senators were naturally in good humour.

"I've been telling him for two years now, 'Just put your stick down and close your eyes,' " Comrie teased, describing the pass he made to Campoli for the second-period marker.

"I looked over at him and saw his eyes were closed, so I knew we had a chance to score."

Campoli was quick with the playful return jab.

"It's taken him a couple of years for him to hit my stick," Campoli said.

Comrie was quick to grab the souvenir puck for his friend, who has had a few similar chances to score his first as a Senator.

"It's not my first NHL goal, but it does mean something to me," said Campoli. "This is a special place to play hockey and I'm really fortunate to be here and able to do it. (The puck) is something I'll keep, and hopefully I'll have a few more souvenirs to add to it."

Comrie, who also scored, heard boos from Oiler fans in attendance, just as he does every time he plays his old team.

"I could hear Ottawa fans sticking up for me, too," he said.

It was all part of the fun for Comrie, who enjoyed his best game in his second coming as a Senator.

Starts and stops

Jason Spezza almost had a second goal on his first shift, but was foiled on a move he attempted against a defenceman he must have thought was Sheldon Souray. Alas, he couldn't turn Tom Gilbert into a goat twice in a row ... Dean McAmmond, aka "Hank", is wearing an 'A' on his new New York Islanders sweater .... Shean Donovan had an especially rough first period. He was drilled nose-first into the boards by Zack Stortini in the third minute, went to the dressing room for repairs and a visor, then came back to receive similar punishment from Ladislav Smid in the 17th minute ... It seemed only a matter of time before Anton "A-Train" Volchenkov crushed an Oiler, as a few of them avoided punishment by pulling up. Finally, Volchenkov drilled Kyle Brodziak into the boards in the third ... Moments before sniping his 31st of the season, Dany Heatley outraced an Oiler to a puck for an icing call against Edmonton. It got him a tap on the shin pad from Spezza. Those are the little things that impress us ...

Between periods

Senators goalie coach Eli Wilson is looking forward to working with Pascal Leclaire. "Instincts," Wilson said yesterday when asked the 26-year-old's greatest asset. "He really sees what's happening around him. He's not a real strong technical guy. He doesn't keep it real simple. But his awareness of what's happening and his ability to read the play is very good." Wilson says he thinks Leclaire can be one of the league's top 10 goalies. "The natural ability to be a puck-stopper is basically what he has," he said. "Can he look off-balance and out of position at times? Yeah, but he can always bail himself out because of the instincts and reflexes and the way he reads the game." ... Wilson also vows to learn enough of the language this summer that he'll be able to hold a one- or two-minute conversation in French by next season's training camp. To me, developing yourself into an NHL goalie coach from scratch would be easier ... Comrie T-shirts are being sold for 10 bucks at Islander home games. "That's about $9 more than I thought they'd be charging," cracked M.C. ... With a goal and an assist in the opening 40 minutes after the fight he had in the third Tuesday, Spezza recorded a drawn-out Gordie Howe hat trick. He resisted any temptation to toss down the gloves against the Oilers. "I only go with the heavies," joked Spezza, who had no Phaneuf to phight on this night.

Last minute of say

With 19 games left and an estimated 94 points needed to make the playoffs, the Senators can afford just one more loss. They begin what will go down in history as one of the great all-time miracle runs by shooting pucks past former Ottawa goalies Patrick Lalime (now with Buffalo) tomorrow and Martin Gerber (Toronto) Monday.

DON.BRENNAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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