U-G-L-Y, Sens have no alibi

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- It was easily the ugliest 20 minutes of hockey played by the Senators this season.

In fact, it's hard to imagine any team has been scarier.

They had a couple of chances in the first period of last night's game against the Flyers -- Bryan Smolinski hit a post with a backhand early on and Peter Schaefer was robbed by Antero Niittymaki from in close -- but for the most part the Eastern Conference leaders were busy playing horribly in their own end.

At the intermission, the scoreboard read 3-0 for the Flyers, who also owned a 19-12 edge in the shots-on-goal department, and the star of the period may very well have been (Uggh!) Donald Brashear.

Talk about humiliating.

The Flyers enforcer, who doesn't seem to enforce much any more, reached up and hauled an ill-advised Wade Redden pass out of the air with five minutes to go in the first.

Dominik Hasek must have been surprised that Redden would cough the puck up because Brashear's wrist shot from the high slot rattled off his crossbar. A few moments later, Brian Pothier's giveaway led to a Sami Kapanen goal that put the home team ahead by two.

The third goal also had Brashear's tire marks all over it.

After bumping with Brian McGrattan before one whistle, Brashear skated away from the Ottawa tough guy when play ensued. McGrattan chased him all over the ice and Brashear kept running.

Play finally moved to the Ottawa zone, and after another Brashear shot on goal and failed clearing attempt by Pothier, McGrattan was a step slow from swatting a rebound away before R.J. Umberger put a loose puck by Hasek.

That one came 18:29 into the period, and 1:31 seconds later you can guess that Senators coach Bryan Murray was never as happy to hear a buzzer in his three-month long stint behind the Ottawa bench.

Starts and Stops:

The haunting "Hasek" chants began early and were heard throughout the game, even though the Senators goalie could hardly be faulted for the disaster that hit his team last night. That didn't stop one keen observer from pointing out that: "Patrick Lalime used to own these guys. He's available." ... If you think the Senators don't miss Martin Havlat, think again. With the dazzling winger in their lineup this year, they are 15-1. Without Havlat, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season mending from shoulder surgery, they are now 7-8. "When you lose a quality player like Marty, you know it's going to have an impact," Murray said yesterday morning. "Hopefully, it's not a .500-impact the rest of the way."

Punch Lines:

Brashear stepped in when Zdeno Chara was having words with Jeff Carter in the second period. When Chara turned his attention to Brashear, the latter skated away. Wondered what Dany Heatley said to Brashear as the two glided side by side to their benches. Probably was something like "When did you become such a pussycat?" ... Going over Team Sweden's lineup yesterday in conversation, Daniel Alfredsson mentioned that forward Mika Hannula was someone he'd never seen play before. Who? "He's a Swedish guy," said Alfie. Good thing.

Between Periods:

Ottawa native Ben Eager has been a man on the move this month. Since Dec. 1, the Flyers rookie has been recalled nine times from the clubs AHL farm team. Fortunately, the Phantoms play just across the parking lot at the Wachovia Spectrum. "These things happen now with the cap," Eager said before last night's game. "Obviously, I'd like to practise with the (NHL) team more, but it's really nice to get the call when you do. You've just got to understand how it works." ... Going up against the Senators was special for Eager, naturally. "It's nice to play the home-town team," said the former Oshawa General, who entered the night with no goals but four assists in eight games for the Flyers. "I used to like playing the 67's. Hopefully, I'll get things going tonight." His line last night included 10:13 of playing time and one shot on goal.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

How the mighty have fallen. Kenny Jonsson, a former Islanders and Leafs defenceman who was once an NHLer first-rounder, is going to the Olympics from his current team, Rogle BK. It's in the Swedish second division ... Remember former 67's defenceman Carter Trevisani? He's playing in Italy -- and headed to the Olympics with his national hockey team. Nobody will mistake Team Italy for Team Canada.

Butt Ends:

McGrattan didn't see the ice in the second period ... This time it was Redden who took a delay of game penalty for firing the puck over the glass. The Senators have to lead the league in the category.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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