Spezza sticks to his guns

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

The only thing missing was a call of "Timber" when a mischievous teammate knocked Jason Spezza's wooden sticks over at the bench yesterday morning.

"It was either Kells or Gratz," Spezza said later, referring to Chris Kelly and Brian McGrattan. "And I was watching Gratz.

"Kells is trying to get into my head. It doesn't work."

Pranks are as common around the Senators' dressing room as rolls of tape. Both help keep things together.

Uncommon, meanwhile, are Spezza's sticks. Well documented is the fact he is the only Ottawa player to use wood, which makes him one of "maybe 20" dinosaurs across the league, Spezza guesses, that has yet to switch to the composites.

"He has to be one of the strongest guys in the NHL," Kelly said. "Those things weigh a ton."

Entering last night's Game 3, he was raising them a fair bit, too. Only one forward not playing on his line was able to solve Martin Brodeur, and that was Dean McAmmond's short-handed tally in Game 1.

In carrying the Senators, Spezza had a goal and three assists while his left winger, Dany Heatley, accounted for two goals and three assists. That meant Spezza and Heatley were responsible for 9-of-15 points, while the second and third lines were still looking for their first goal.

"We'd like a couple of guys to step up," coach Bryan Murray cracked when he was asked, after the morning skate, about the need for secondary scoring. "I'll mention that to them before the game."

The series was 188 minutes, 41 seconds old when Tom Preissing broke the ice in the third period, and while it was the third in the three games produced by an Ottawa defenceman, a couple of second liners contributed largely.

Mike Comrie managed to stay on the ice -- after he was only moments earlier he was dinged by a Preissing shot -- to get the puck in around the boards to where Preissing fired it. And Mike Fisher very subtly bumped Brodeur just before the Preissing shot, causing just the right amount of distraction without taking a penalty.

"I'd like to tell you I had my head up and I was shooting for that corner," Preissing said of the shot that squeaked in just under the crossbar, on Brodeurs glove side. "But I was just shooting at the net."

Meanwhile, the Heatley- Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson line still needs help with some secondary scoring, but last night the second line came up big without actually putting the puck in the net.

BUMPED IN THE NIGHT: So Marty, would you have stopped Preissing's shot if Fisher hadn't give you a nudge? "We'll never know," Brodeur replied. Expanding on the incident, he said: "The guy hit me a little bit there, but I guess not enough to get considered by the ref. He told me he didn't see it, then he told my players I had time to recover ... the same guy, too. So I don't know." After adding that Fisher is "not that type of guy" to deliberately run a goalie, Brodeur pinpointed a real problem. The Senators killed off all five penalties they took. "I think the power play, what it needs to do is come through for us. It didn't happen."

STARTS AND STOPS: Good and honest guys, the Ottawa timekeepers. Just too sharp for the home team's own good. Half a second or slower like others we know and Antoine Vermette would have had a goal to give the Senators a lead at the end of the first period ... Joe "Uh Oh" Corvo made a gaffe that almost led to the next Devils goal when he handed the puck to Zach Parise at the side of the Ottawa net with the game scoreless late in the second. This time Ray Emery bailed him out with a save.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Emery darted all the way to the bench on a delayed penalty at 10:09 of the third period. Turns out the call went against Oleg Saprykin for elbowing. Now, the play was at the other end of the ice, but it was still lucky for him one of his teammates touched the puck before the Devils gained control ... The Senators followed the Preissing goal with some muscle. First Chris Phillips crushed Patrik Elias, putting the star winger on his back in the slot, and then Chris Neil drilled Brian Gionta.

HMMM THINGS: In attendance last night was Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Is it me," wondered Sportsnet's Ian "Lenny" Mendes, "or is he booing every time Paul Martin touches the puck?" ... Martin, who saw almost two minutes more ice time than the next busiest Devil in the first period, made the defensive play of the second, diving to knock the puck away from Heatley on a breakaway ... Rewind the tape a little further, The Globe and Mail's Dave Naylor points out, and you'll notice that the Continental Airlines Arena clock didn't stop for almost two full seconds after Emery smothered it at the end of Period 1 on Saturday. Maybe if the timekeeper had a chance to explain himself, he might say that's why he didn't start it exactly when the puck was dropped with 2.7 seconds until the buzzer. Either way, we rule legitimate goal the Senators should have prevented themselves.

QUICK HITS: D Anton Volchenkov once again did his impersonation of a wall. He blocked eight shots, or just five less than the entire New Jersey team ... Appreciate camera guy Johnny Scott for gently pointing out a rare Cheapseats error yesterday. Alexei Yashin (Boo) is also on the list of Senators, along with Phillips, Shaun Van Allen and Bruce Gardiner, to score a playoff game OT goal against the Devils, which means Ottawa was actually 4-0 against N.J. in such games before Langenbrunner spoiled the run Saturday.


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