Sens need to keep Sutton

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

Andy Sutton laughs hard at the new nickname.

“That’s a good one,” he said. “But I didn’t feel like much of a ‘Mount’ (Tuesday) playing against those three guys. It was an experience, I’ll tell ya. You’re questioning everything. They’re just everywhere and nowhere.

“It’s ridiculous the stuff they can do with the puck.”

Sutton, the 6-foot-6 Senators defenceman, was referring to the razzlin’, dazzlin’, head-spinnin’ trio of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. They generated many of the Caps’ scoring chances in what would become a 5-4 overtime win for the Senators.

And there were many. Washington fired a total of 64 shots toward the Senators net, but only 21 of them reached goalie Brian Elliott. Fifteen went wide, while 28 were blocked.

Sutton, who has been a great pickup since his pre-deadline acquisition, didn’t enjoy his best game against the Caps. He was a minus-2 and charged with five giveaways.

But he also blocked seven shots. And that, plus a similar commitment by teammates who jumped in the line of Washington fire, was key to victory.

“This is the most committed bunch of guys I’ve ever been around,” said Sutton, an 11-season veteran of five NHL teams. “You just feel it and I think guys feed off it. I’ve tried to lead that way and I think we’ve got guys here who will do whatever it takes to win.

“That’s a team you want to play for.”

Sutton, who has played in 580 regular-season games, has only played four games in the playoffs. He can’t contain his excitement for the upcoming weeks, nor does he even try.

“It’s incredible, to see the possibilities,” he said. “That’s what you play for. You play to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I just feel a sense of hope every day I come to the rink because we have such a tremendous group here. The sky’s really the limit.”

Sounds like he wants to re-sign with the Senators, doesn’t it? Maybe. Ottawa is just down the road from his Kingston birthplace. But he also has a 100-year-old house, a golf membership and many friends in Atlanta. But who knows where the cards will fall for Mount Sutton, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent coming off a salary of $3.5 million US.

Meanwhile, if there’s been any dialogue between his agent, Pat Morris, and Senators GM Bryan Murray, he doesn’t know of it. Nor does he care to.

“I’m just trying to focus on playing and let that all shake out where it’s going to shake out,” he said. “We have more important things to worry about right now.

“It’s a tremendous place, and a tremendous place to play ... I’d be open to whatever. But I think everyone’s just focusing on trying to win the Stanley Cup. It’s the most important thing right now.

“I’m just trying to have a solid season, leave it all out there and see what happens.”

The Senators let Big Zdeno Chara escape and they’ve never forgiven themselves for it. They’ve got to do what they can to keep Mount Sutton.

NUMBER CRUNCHER

Daniel Alfredsson needs 11 points in the next five games to hit the 1,000 mark in both categories at the same time. He wound up with four assists in Tuesday’s win over Washington when another helper was added to his total — after being taken away from D Erik Karlsson — upon review of Jason Spezza’s first goal the next morning. That left Karlsson with just two assists and short of becoming the first rookie blueliner in NHL history to record back-to-back three-assist games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. “I heard,” Alfredsson said with a smile after the scoring change. “We’re discussing now if Spezza really tipped it. Then, we’ll both get assists.”

ICE CHIPS

The Senators have signed D Eric Gryba, a 2006 second-round pick, to a two-year entry-level contract. He’s headed to Binghamton ... Fewer than 1,750 tickets are still available for this, the second-last home game of the season.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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