MONTREAL -- Alex Auld is making a pretty good case to be part of the Senators' plans for next year.
He made his third straight start last night and once again gave his team a chance to win, stopping a penalty shot with the game scoreless late in the first period and winding up with the 'W' in Ottawa's 3-2 victory over the Canadiens.
Auld looked like he got a piece of a shot by Montreal's Christopher Higgins in the first period after Higgins was awarded the free try with the Habs short-handed. Auld had raced out to get a puck and had Higgins get around him only to be hauled down by Ottawa's Ryan Shannon.
It was the second straight game Auld had faced a penalty shot. Darroll Powe of the Flyers snuck one in off the post and Auld's foot Saturday night.
That's a pretty good roll Auld is on when you consider he stopped 5-of-6 shots in the shootout against the Flyers to help the Senators to the win -- and the only goal in the shootout, by Philly's Daniel Briere, required a lengthy video review to figure out if it had crossed the line or not.
Auld got beat by Montreal's sizzling Alex Kovalev for the Habs' first goal and saw a shot by Roman Hamrlik deflected by Mathieu Dandenault with four seconds to go in the second to give the Habs the lead.
"We did a good job of not letting that give them a lot of life," said Auld. "It's kind of fun coming in here and giving them a loss. It's tough on them because they can't really afford it right now. They're a divisional rival we don't have a lot of love for."
The Senators have Auld under contract next year for $1 million US and he'll be battling it out with Brian Elliott (salary for next year TBD; he's a restricted free agent) for the backup job behind Pascal Leclaire.
Senators GM Bryan Murray might try to trade Auld in the off-season to clear up the goaltending picture ... if that's the case, Auld is helping his marketability. It's also not out of the question it will be Leclaire and Auld, with Elliott in the AHL.
Celebrity G-friend update
Mike Fisher won't have a chance to win anything with the Senators this season, but galpal Carrie Underwood has got her equivalent of the Stanley Cup. "I'm happy for her. It's a huge award for her," said Fisher after watching Underwood win the Entertainer of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Underwood accepted the award and had a shoutout for Fisher. "I've had a lot of good moments in the last four years. This one takes the cake," she said. "I don't know what to say. I got nothing. Mike, baby, I wish you were here!" Fisher watched the awards in his hotel here. "I couldn't be happier," said Fisher. "She's worked hard and deserves it." Underwood also took home the Top Female Vocalist award.
Hear and there
The Habs were without top defenceman and leading scorer Andrei Markov last night against the Senators and he's expected to be out for three weeks, according to RDS. He was hurt after getting smacked Saturday night by former teammate Mikhail Grabovski of the Maple Leafs, who just hates his former team. GM Brian Burke and the Leafs must be wondering what they could do to get him to hate, oh, about 28 other teams just as much ... Markov is one of only two defencemen to lead their teams in scoring this season. The other is ex-Hab Mark Streit on Long Island.
There was a nice ovation for Canadiens Hall of Famer Henri Richard last night when he came out to give Habs D Patrice Brisebois a silver stick to mark Brisebois' 1,000th NHL game. The Pocket Rocket's got a record that will never be touched: 11 Stanley Cups as a player. Well, it'll never be touched unless the NHL goes back to being a six-team league.
Jason Spezza has been showing he's got a pretty good shot as evidenced by his 31 goals this season. On the first shift last night, he ripped one off the far post that Montreal G Jaroslav Halak still hasn't seen. After seeing that shot, you might wonder why Spezza, who always looks to pass first, it seems, doesn't shoot more. Truth is he has. He had a career-high 235 shots going into last night's game. His previous high was 210 last year ... Canadiens fans had a good laugh when Senators W Dany Heatley tried a one-timer in the first period, missed and fell right on his wallet. "That's the one-timer," said Heatley. "Sometimes you go after a shot that's too far ahead or too far behind. I still had two more strikes." ... The fans didn't think it was so funny a few minutes later when he got away with a high-stick into the face of Montreal D Mike Komisarek or when he dropped Montreal D-man Josh Gorges with a cross-check right before he tied the game ... Something I've never seen: Senators D Brian Lee in a fight. He got pulled out of a scrum by Habs agitator Maxim Lapierre in the third and after taking a couple, dropped Lapierre with a shot to the head and landed on top. Not bad.