Non-goal irks Senators

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Isn't the pre-season supposed to be about the battle for employment?

Last night, the Senators just felt jobbed.

For a club coming off its first playoff miss since 1996, starting out on a winning note has a certain level of importance — even if it is just the pre-season.

Evidence of that was the look on the face of Senators coach Cory Clouston’s face as he pointed at the centre- ice video board after what appeared to be a goal by Jason Spezza was ruled “not in” with 17.3 seconds to go in a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place.

“It was pretty obvious it was a goal,” said Clouston. “We just looked at it from a couple of different angles ... very clearly it’s a goal.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you want to make sure you win the game, as much as you possibly can. It was frustrating to lose it like that, but what can you do?”

There was no call made upstairs, the Senators were told, because there would be no one waiting on the other end. The goal light did not go on.

“We were told there is no video replay in the pre-season,” said Clouston. “Whether that’s true or not, we’re checking into that. There was a video goal judge here .... we were told it didn’t cross the line, which is not even close.”

Spezza thought it was in.

“I guess (the refs) don’t care as much about the win, or us trying to get back in the game, as much as we do,” he said with a shrug. “We’re at home. You’d think there would be a (replay official) who would give his night up to watch a hockey game. But I guess not.

“It’s not the end of the world to lose pre-season games, but now we’re 0-2 ... you want to be respectable in the pre-season. It’s sloppy, it’s more for timing and getting your combinations down, but we play to win, and we felt we tied the game. That’s why you react how we reacted.”

Phillips scores

Chris Phillips had the lone Senators goal that counted, while Brian Elliott stopped 10 of 11 shots before giving way to rookie Mike Brodeur 12:53 into the second period. The shot to beat Elliott was by Jordan Leopold, who had an open side after the goalie made the initial stop on a Panthers power play.

Making their Senators debuts were Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo, and while the latter earned an assist on Phillips’ power-play goal, the former may have already established himself as the best playmaking winger in franchise history.

Kovalev, who had the puck on his stick more than anyone else, set up Mike Fisher for three good chances, and Cheechoo for one — in the first period alone. Moved off that line to play with Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson in the third, he proved his competitiveness by diving at Michael Frolik — and crashing hard into the end boards in the process — while backchecking during an Ottawa power play late in the game.

“That’s the pre-season,” Kovalev said. “It’s the first game (for him) and it’s hard to get any flow going. The first period and a half, we were all over the place. The first two or three games, that’s what they’re for. To get into playing shape.”

Playing with the poise of a veteran was 19-year-old Erik Karlsson, who strengthened his grip on a roster spot. Karlsson led all players with seven shots on goal.

His blast from the point might have been a game-tying assist if there had been a video replay judge on duty.

Alfredsson acknowledged the Senators were “slow” out of the gate last night.

“Overall, we would have wished for a little better,” Alfredsson said. “But we had a strong push at the end and thought we had the goal. Obviously, we didn’t get the call.”


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