PITTSBURGH -- Bruce Springsteen's show on May 19 is the highlight of the spring concert lineup at Mellon Arena.
Making music yesterday was the Daniel Alfredsson Band.
The Senators' boss rang a pair of shots off the same spot of the same post in the first period on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's stick side -- once in the first five minutes and again in the last five.
The second hit post came while Ottawa enjoyed a two-man advantage, and just a couple of ticks before Filip Kuba chimed one off Fleury's other best friend.
Three well-hit posts in the same period was an unofficial season high for the Senators, who were accompanied by some hard luck on their two-game trip to Beantown and Steeltown.
"Ring-a-ling-a-ling" is how Penguins broadcaster Paul Steigerwald described the events during intermission.
Despite the above evidence, the old home of the Penguins remains a favourite place for the Senators. Ottawa has lost only twice at Mellon Arena during the regular season since Oct. 16, 2001. Both defeats were in overtime.
Starts and stops
Alfredsson played without his extra face guard for the first time since breaking his jaw Feb. 17. "That felt great," said Alfredsson of losing the guard. "I saw the puck a lot better. It's been frustrating playing with it." In the 10 games wearing the cumbersome equipment, Alfredsson scored four goals and added eight assists. Guess it couldn't have been that much of a hindrance, eh? ... Mike Comrie was unsuccessful when in alone on Fleury in the first. He tried a new move in the second -- an attacking elbow -- with a 1-on-1 rush against Brooks Orpik. That put Comrie on the scoresheet with a minor penalty. It was no small feat, given that the 5-foot-10 Comrie was able to drill the 6-foot-2 Orpik square in the chops ... Comrie tried another fancy manoeuvre in OT -- the falling, spin-around backhand. It went just wide ... Comrie saved his best for last. When asked if he was relieved to see his shootout attempt "sneak" inside the post, he feigned astonishment. "Sneak in?" he asked. "I had a pretty good view. It was a pretty hard shot." ... The Senators are an amazing 37-6-5-1 when Chris Phillips hits mesh. "I just try to pick my spots, when I think we're going to win the game," The Big Rig cracked to Hockey Night in Canada's Cassie Campbell of his game-tying goal, also the 200th point of his career.
Things I think I think
The Penguins have made a nice turnaround since Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as coach and Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin were acquired at the trade deadline. Even more key in their success has been the return of Sergei Gonchar after shoulder surgery that kept him out more than four months. Gonchar, who has nine points in 13 games since returning, added a very good puck-moving defenceman to Pittsburgh's lineup in February. And he cost them nothing ... Jarkko Ruutu didn't improve on his already impressive shootout numbers, but he did assist on Alfredsson's goal in the tie-breaking procedure against his former team. "Ruuts said to (coach) Cory (Clouston) he likes to poke-check," said Alfredsson, referring to Fleury's shootout tendencies. "So I was either going to go high glove or to the backhand." Alfredsson chose the latter option and it worked ... Clouston's intensity level is still high the moments after a game. Liked his reaction to the reporter who asked his "rhyme and reason" for selecting his shootout shooters. Said Clouston: "I don't know what that means." Said reporter: "Why did you pick the guys you did?" Said Clouston, with a hard stare: "Those are the guys we felt were going to score." ... Some goalies would have snapped if Kristopher Letang banged in his rebound after his shootout attempt was stopped. The calm and cool Brian Elliott did not.
Brian Lee and Brendan Bell are the only two members of the current Senators lineup who are eligible to participate in the playoffs this spring -- for Binghamton. Both will be expected to give more than they did on Pittsburgh's first goal, when Lee was caught up ice and Bell allowed Eric Godard around him into position for a centring shot that bounced off Jesse Winchester. Eric Godard? The Senators would not have been too thrilled with Bell's performance, nor should they be.
Out and about
A tour of the Carson St. strip on Pittsburgh's south side can take one to all sorts of extremes. There's the Awesome Servers Bar (Carson City Saloon), Ugly People Bar (Jack's), the Beautiful People Bar (Elixir), The Scary People Bar (in such a hurry to leave, forgot to check the name) and Mario's, the most fun bar and highly recommended by Penguins centre "Mad" Max Talbot ... Senators and members of their entourage were rudely awaken early yesterday by Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade, which is supposedly the second-largest of its kind in the U.S. There were numerous sightings of public drunkenness, but as far as we could tell the entourage was well-behaved ... In what he hoped was the last minutes of his fight with the flu, Senators broadcaster Dean Brown turned down a chance to go out for a post-game drink with a small group that included former Bruins great Ray Bourque Thursday. Wasn't until afterwards that Deano fully realized the opportunity he missed. David Letterman might refer to it as Brown's "Brush (off) with Greatness." But then, how can chatting over a coke with Bourque be considered such a big deal to a guy who once had Bobby Orr iron his shirt?