Penalty was net gain for Comrie

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

A two-time 30-goal scorer, he was acquired by the Senators primarily to add some offence.

While he simply hasn't scored enough in the playoffs, Mike Comrie did a nice job of putting Mike Comrie in the net at HSBC Arena Saturday.

Next to Daniel Alfredsson's overtime winner, it was the second-most significant crossing of the goal line. Who knows how that Senators-Sabres series would have unfolded without it?

"Biggest defensive play of my career," Comrie quipped at Scotiabank Place yesterday.

Given the magnitude of the moment and what was at stake that afternoon, it might have been the biggest defensive play in franchise history.

WATCHING CLOCK

You'll remember that Game 5 was tied 2-2 late in the third period when the Sabres' Thomas Vanek stickhandled Ray Emery into the ground and was preparing to fire a shot at the empty cage when Comrie slid by, knocking the net off its moorings.

A penalty shot would have been called had there been less than two minutes to go (Comrie: "I knew there was 2:50 left"), but instead it was only a minor for delay of game. Because Ottawa's penalty killing was so good and Buffalo's power play so bad, there was little threat of the penalty coming back to haunt him.

"I was sliding to take away the pass and I saw Vanek stop up," said Comrie. "He made a great play and I just kept sliding. My skates were off the ice ... I wasn't able to stop."

Whether he truly believes this, it's still unclear. But Comrie is convincing when he expresses the nervousness he had watching two of the last three minutes in a tied playoff game from the box. If the Sabres had scored with him there, then hung on to win, then carried the momentum of two victories to two more ...

"Then I'd never be able to go back to Edmonton or Ottawa," Comrie said, chuckling.

Before he left the Oilers after a highly publicized dispute with management, Comrie was just a young man living his dream. He was wearing the logo he had grown up watching, a regular hometown hero on his hometown team.

The Oilers won the Cup when Comrie was 3, 4, 6 and 7 years of age.

"Growing up in Edmonton in the '80s, watching all those great teams, the one that sticks out in my mind most was '88, when they really dominated, when Wayne (Gretzky) was actually at his best," Comrie said. "They were controlling every game, every team."

POWER FAILURE

The Oilers went 16-2 that spring, wrapping up things with a rare five-game sweep over the Bruins. Game 4 was suspended because of a power failure. Yes, they could be interrupted, but not stopped. No wonder they were revered.

"Every kid dreams of playing for the Stanley Cup," Comrie said. "We've all lifted it thousands of times over our heads playing street hockey. To be able to compete for it now is a dream come true."

Comrie could be home in California right now had he been not acquired by John Muckler in a January trade. The deal was a good one, although it can never be fully evaluated until we know for sure that Alexei Kaigorodov isn't going to be a late-blooming superstar. Chances are unlikely, but they still exist.

"The first thing (Muckler) talked to me about when I got here was winning and the great chance this team has," Comrie said. "We talked about how hard it is to win and what it takes.

"I've learned a lot since I've been traded here. It's been a great experience ... learning how to win with this group. Sometimes you have to do more little things than you think."

Like throwing yourself into the net to prevent a goal.


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