Connolly, Sens out cold

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

It was a huge hit, presumably the biggest and hardest of Peter Schaefer's career.

And even though it was delivered by the Senators winger in the first minute of last night's Game 2, it could still be a difference maker in this series.

"I haven't seen the replay," said Sabres defenceman Brian Campbell, who destroyed Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger in similar fashion. "Hopefully, he's all right."

"He" is Buffalo centre Tim Connolly, who was tied for third in playoff scoring before Schaefer drilled him in the neutral zone after a tone-setting hit by Ales Kotalik on Martin Havlat only moments earlier.

Connolly, who missed the entire 2003-04 season with concussion symptoms, immediately assumed the final pose. He was flat on his back, his arms on his chest, his eyes closed.

If he wasn't out cold, he sure can act the part.

Connolly was done for the night after just one 21-second shift, but Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff later said he anticipated his star would return for Game 4.

"I don't know what the doctor said, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's back soon," said Jay McKee. "Sometimes you want to be over cautious, especially with his history of concussions. But I saw him and he looked pretty happy."

Still, you've got to think the Sabres are being optimistic, that Connolly returning from such a hit, given his past, would be nothing short of miracle.

And it looks like they aren't the same team without him.

Buffalo scored twice on three mistakes last night. By defenceman Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara on the first goal, by Chris Phillips on the second.

The Senators outshot the Sabres 44-17 -- including a 22-2 stretch at one point -- and would have prevailed had Dominik Hasek snuck into his old colours and the Ryan Miller mask.

If they have any character, they can handle the adversity of being down 2-0. They can still bounce back.

If they lack it, they'll soon be as down and out as Connolly looked.

Starts and stops: Just like that, Andrej Meszaros went from being Ottawa's worst defenceman in Game 1 to its best in Game 2 ... If trends are your thing, you'll have zero faith in a Senators comeback. Ottawa has now lost eight straight playoff games to Buffalo, as well as its last four meetings this season with the Sabres. Plus, the Sabres are 11-1 when taking the first two games of a playoff, including a 4-0 record when those first two are on the road ... The Senators are 0-4 when dropping the first two games of a series ... Rookie Patrick Eaves was probably the Senators' best forward last night. He led the team with six hits and six shots on goal ... After scoring at least one goal in each of the Senators' first six playoff games, Havlat's streak was stopped. "We didn't want to be down 2-0," he said of the team's predicament. "We have to regroup, stay positive and do the same thing in Buffalo that they did to us here."

Post to post: Other scary moments: In the first, McKee caught Chris Kelly with a knee-on-knee hit right in front of the Ottawa bench. Senators stood and threw their arms up, and McKee wound up with a tripping minor. "Battleship" Kelly didn't miss a shift ... Anton "A-Train" Volchenkov lined Paul Gaustad up as the Buffalo centre streaked down the right wing, again in front of the Senators bench, this time in the third. When the two players collided, it was head-on-head. As he was coming down, Volchenkov's head hit the top of the boards violently. He lay on the ice for a few moments, then was helped to the dressing room for the remainder of the night. Don't be surprised if D Christoph Schubert is called to duty in Game 3 ... After the morning skate, Daniel Alfredsson confessed that he only watched two periods of Sunday's Edmonton-San Jose game. Then, Captain Compromise allowed the family TV set to be switched to Grey's Anatomy. Across the hall, Bryan Murray was talking about Ray's Anatomy. Asked what his goalie had to change for Game 2, Murray dead panned: "Just get hit by the puck more often." ... As luck and fate would have it, Emery's first test of the night came in the third minute, when he found himself face-to-face with Game 1 OT hero Chris Drury. His shot hit Emery, or his stick ... So discombobulated were the Senators, fans booed an incomplete pass from Eaves intended for Alfredsson in the third -- only because they had seen so many of them from the home team all night ... The wildest of goal-mouth scrambles saw glorious chances for Jason Spezza, Chris Neil and Chara seven minutes into the third. The puck just wouldn't go their way ... Miller's best two saves in the first were on back-to-back rebound efforts from Eaves, who couldn't get the puck up over the goalie's right pad ... Derek Roy, who you may remember as a goalie in a charity ball hockey game held in the Lynx Stadium parking lot on a warm summer day a couple of years back, is sometimes vague when asked where he's from. "People get mad when I say Rockland, people get mad when I say Clarence (Creek)," said the Sabres forward, who's right in the middle of both. So what does he usually go with? "Just outside Ottawa."

Working the corners: You could almost hear Phillips say "where the Hecht did he come from?" when he handed the puck to Jochen Hecht for the breakaway goal that gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead. Clearly, he thought the Buffalo winger was still on that injured list ... Sabres coach Lindy Ruff had a light and fluffy side to him in the a.m. When he was asked why Daniel Briere had missed weekend practices, Ruff made reference to the height difference between Briere (generously listed at 5-foot-10) and the 6-foot-9 Chara. "We put him on a stretching machine the last two days," said Ruff. "If he's going to play against Chara, he needs to get a lot taller." Told of his coach's quote, Briere didn't miss a beat. "I think they should de-stretch Chara," he said.


Videos

Photos