Zack Smith's first goal hits home

DON BRENNAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

BOSTON — Had things worked out differently at training camp, Dean Smith would have probably been the proudest fan in a building of 21,273 Saturday night.

Instead, he was one of the two proudest people in a town of 2,198.

Surrounded by friends and family, Smith watched from his living room in Maple Creek, Sask., as son Zack scored his first NHL goal in Ottawa’s 4-2 over win over the Habs at the Bell Centre. Called up to a team some figured he would make in October, Smith was playing in just his fourth NHL game.

Had things worked out a differently at training camp, Dean Smith would have probably been among the fathers of Senators players who are on the Montreal-Boston portion of the five-game road trip. The contingent of dads is 17 strong, and their boys appeared determined not to disappoint them.

“That would have been pretty cool for my dad to be there, for my parents to be there to see it,” Zack Smith said when asked about Dean and Colleen. “I think watching it on Hockey Night In Canada is just a step under.

“I got a text message from (dad) ... I didn’t see it in time, but I read it after the game, and it was my parents telling me how proud they were of me. That they’d be watching and cheering me on. I read that as soon as I got out of the room after the game ... I think that pretty much said it all there.”

Watching on the tube, Smith’s folks had a better view of Zack’s short-handed goal against the league’s No. 1 power play than he did.

“When I shot it, I was kind of screened by the D-man ... I didn’t get to see it,” he said. “I just heard it hit the post and it was pretty loud (sound), so I thought it went off the post and out. But when I turned the corner, I saw it had gone in, and I was a little surprised.

“It was obviously the greatest moment in my hockey life so far. I didn’t know how it would feel compared to getting drafted or playing in my first NHL game, but scoring that goal was definitely the biggest highlight of my career so far. It was unreal, especially to have it on Hockey Night in Canada, and against Montreal, in that building, too.”

A number of Smith’s friends didn’t even realize he had been called up from Binghamton Jan. 8. Since then, word has spread in a hurry.

“Being from a small town like Maple Creek and playing my junior in Swift Current, I get a lot of support from the people around there,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing when you realize how many people are cheering for you and stuff.”

Saturday’s game was Smith’s best in the NHL. Of his 11:21 of ice time, 4:09 was on the penalty kill. The Senators did a great job against the league’s top-ranked power play, stifling all six opportunities and adding Smith’s shortie.

“He’s getting more confidence,” coach Cory Clouston said of the 21-year-old. “He’s doing a real good job on the penalty kill. He’s just a big, solid forward, willing to do the dirty work. And he’s got a nice set of hands.”

Smith isn’t allowing himself to think too far ahead into the future.

“I’ve been pretty good about that,” he said. “Guys are coming back from injuries and stuff, so we’ll see what happens there. But I’m pretty happy with how I’m playing. I can play better, contribute a bit more, but I’m pretty happy with how things have gone so far.

“It’s nice to be up here, but to contribute makes it that much better.”

How to Beat thomas

Have the Senators finally figured out a way to beat Tim Thomas, the Bruins goalie who owns an 11-game winning streak against them? “Their defence does a great job. That’s one of the reasons he’s so aggressive, because they’ve got big bodies that block second, third chances,” said Daniel Alfredsson. “But if you can get him to move laterally, I think you can find a way to beat him. And shoot pucks at the net. Don’t think about it too much.”

Ice chips

From team meetings in Florida, GM Bryan Murray arrived in Boston Saturday to scout college free agents ... D Anton Volchenkov blocked seven shots Saturday ... Alfredsson’s goal stopped his drought at 13 games.

Injuries

Senators: D Filip Kuba (hand), day-to-day; G Pascal Leclaire (concussion), indefinitely; LW Milan Michalek (concussion), indefinitely; C Jason Spezza (knee), indefinitely; C Jesse Winchester (knee), February.

Bruins: C Patrice Bergeron (thumb), could play; C Marc Savard (knee), after the Olympics; LW Marco Sturm, day-to-day; D Andrew Ference (groin), February; D Dennis Wideman (ill), day-to-day; C Steve Begin (undisclosed), day-to-day.


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