Alfie the big hit of opening night

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Yes siree, size does so matter. Especially at this time of the hockey season.

The winners score the biggest goals. Make the biggest saves. Deliver the biggest hits. Draw the biggest scrums.

It's just past noon, or seven hours prior to the opening faceoff of Game 1 in the third-ever Ottawa Senators-New Jersey Devils playoff series.

Daniel Alfredsson has just returned to the tiny, undistinguished visitors dressing room at Continental Airlines Arena. He has completed his morning warm-up.

He is taking off his hockey equipment and getting ready to face the media. Before any questions are fired his way, he is told that only an hour or so earlier, a larger media scrum was waiting to chat with the Devils star, goalie Martin Brodeur.

"I hope there was," said Alfredsson, a sly grin on his face.

A brief pause later, he adds: "I've got two weeks to change that, don't I."

Either that, or hope they continue to gather around Brodeur's stall for the reasons they did last night.

Four goals on eight shots? All to the top right corner?

Wasn't it supposed to be Ray Emery with the bad glove hand?

Marty, what went wrong?

Starts and stops

Alfredsson didn't wait long to put his mark on this series. He did it by putting a mark on Richard Matvichuk with a big hit at 1:28 of the first. Two seconds later, Jason Spezza was deflecting a Tom Preissing point shot, Ottawa was in the lead and the few Devils fans that were in their seats were probably wondering why the Senators' No. 11 hadn't been called for charging or interference or something ... Nothing like a power play with fresh ice, eh Wade Redden? ... Tough to put all the blame on Brodeur for the Devils' early woes when three of Ottawa's four goals were unassisted. Can you say turnover? ... Speaking of which, Mike Comrie has just coughed up the puck to Zach Parise in the immediate leadup to Andy Greene's point shot that has cut the Ottawa lead to 4-3. Can you say comeback? ... As good as Ray Emery was stopping 15 shots in the first period, he should have easily had Brian Gionta's slapper from the top of the right-wing faceoff circle in the second. Can you say cut down an angle?

Snap shots

Jamie is a sizzlin' bar maid at Bazooka's, an appropriately named place for her to be an employee and the closest watering hole to our hotel. She also works at a restaurant in the Continental Airlines Arena, as does her mother. Jamie says she won't be going with the Devils when they move to the new rink in Newark next season. Why? It's located in a very bad neighbourhood, says Jamie. "A lot of drive-bys," she says. Dubbed the "Murder Capital of the Northeast" with a record 106 in 2006, Newark was the No. 1 most dangerous city in the U.S. 11 years ago and it still ranks high on that dubious list. And to think the Devils have bad crowds now. Don't the Swamps of Secaucus look like Paradise by comparison? ... How does Comrie get called for hooking at the 20-minute mark of the first? What, did he get his stick around a Devil as the guy was walking down the corridor to the dressing room? ... The Score's Arash Madani is talking to an employee at a local establishment when the topic turns to the new entertainment complex being constructed at the Meadowlands. It will boast an indoor ski hill. "It will be the second of its kind in the world," the lovely lady tells Arash, which doesn't sound quite right. "The other is in Dubai, Canada." Is that near Wawa?

Between periods

Scott Gomez says the Senators are a "well-oiled machine." He says that, while Ottawa and New Jersey play different styles, "when they clash together it's usually pretty good hockey." He says the Senators were the best team in the NHL during the second half of the season, but even before then everybody knew that "to go through the East, you have to go through Ottawa." As a go-to guy for reporters visiting the Devils room, Gomez says a lot of things, and often. And at the end of most every live TV interview he does in Canada, he also says "hi" to the family that billeted him in Surrey, B.C., when he played junior hockey. "The Shorts," he said yesterday. "Although, after I scored that overtime winner the other night, I called them something different." What did you call them? "The Whites," he said. The Whites? How could you call them the Whites? "Hey," said Gomez, hitting his interrogator with a shin pad. "Have you ever scored an overtime winner?"

Working down low

There's a three-way tie for the newly created Cheapseats Solo Effort of the Night award. Unless something happens in the last 15 minutes of the third, it's going to Joe Corvo, Dean McAmmond and Dany Heatley on Ottawa goals 2, 3 and 4 ... Honourable mention belongs to Emery for his stick save on Gionta just before the McAmmond shortie ... Travis Zajac scored the first Devils goal. Wonder if his letter-turner Vanna was here to cheer him on? ... Lou Lamoriello was asked yesterday if rookie defenceman Greene has exceeded expectations. "I wouldn't say exceeded expectations," said Lou. "We know what we thought he could do. We're a little surprised he did it so quickly." Um, isn't that what one would call exceeding expectations? ... The visitors dressing room here is small, but Tom Preissing remembers worse. That'd be the visitors dressing room at the University of Minnesota-Duluth when he was playing college hockey. "It was all pink," he said. "There musta been a sale on pink paint."


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