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Heatley, Senators spoil opener for Leafs

by John Kreiser /
Dany Heatley, right, celebrates his game-winning overtime goal with teammate Chris Phillips.
Just what the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t need -- six more years of Dany Heatley in an Ottawa Senators’ uniform.

Heatley signed a new six-year, $45 million extension with the Senators before Wednesday night’s season-opener, then gave the Senators a quick return on their investment. Heatley tied the game with 5:36 remaining in regulation, then won it by scoring 2:57 into overtime to give Ottawa a 4-3 victory at the Air Canada Centre.

"It was nice, it was nice," Heatley said of his big day. "I had a couple of shots early and didn't get the shots through. It was nice to get a couple of chances in the third (and in overtime) and finish."

Heatley is off to a fast start in his quest for a third straight 50-goal season, and the Leafs continue to be his favorite victim. Since coming to Ottawa from Atlanta before the 2005-06 season, Heatley has 16 goals in 17 games against Toronto. Not coincidentally, the Senators have dominated the Leafs during that span, going 13-2-2.

That dominance includes three straight season-opening wins in Toronto, where the Senators are 5-0-1 in their last six games. The teams meet again Thursday night in Ottawa.

Heatley gave the Senators their fourth win in as many season openers in Toronto when he took a feed from Mike Fisher and beat goaltender Andrew Raycroft from the slot.

"I didn't see anything on that last goal," Heatley said. “Fisher made a great play through traffic and I just tried to get it away as fast as I could and find a hole.”
The Senators landed Heatley from Atlanta in August 2005, when they sent high-scoring forward Marian Hossa to the Thrashers. Heatley has back-to-back 50-goal, 100-point seasons and was entering the final season of a deal that pays him $5.5 million this season. He could have become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and had imposed a deadline of opening night for any deal to be done.

He signed the new deal at about 5 p.m. – 2 ½ hours before the puck dropped on the new season.

"I've really enjoyed my two years in Ottawa," Heatley said prior to the game. "I love the city, the fans, and the organization. I'm just thrilled and happy that we were able to get it done before the season started."

The Leafs took a 3-2 lead into the third period, and the sellout crowd of 19,496 was roaring as the minutes ticked off the clock, but Heatley quieted the fans when he converted a feed from Andrej Meszaros with 5:36 remaining in regulation.

Fisher did the work on the game-winner, getting the puck to Heatley for a quick wrist shot that beat Raycroft, who got the start in goal ahead of the Leafs’ big summertime acquisition, Vesa Toskala. The goal made John Paddock a winner in his debut as Ottawa’s coach.

"That's what goal-scorers are," Paddock said of Heatley. "You saw Brett Hull many nights, you don't think he's got anything and all of sudden he gets two chances and he scores. That's Heater. They were both goal-scorer's goals."

Heatley has 22 goals and 41 points in 25 career games against the Leafs.

As they have for every Leafs opener since 1931, the bagpipes and drums of the 48th Highlanders filled the arena with music. But Antoine Vermette spoiled the crowd’s good mood 7:23 into the game when he raced past defenseman Tomas Kaberle and scored on a wrist shot from the circle to Raycroft’s right.

Nik Antropov tied it at 10:39 with the first of his two goals when his pass to the crease from the sideboards hit Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips’ skate and deflected past goaltender Martin Gerber, who started in place of Ray Emery.

Antropov put the Leafs ahead at 13:59 when he converted Mats Sundin’s centering pass, but Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson tied the score at 2-2 just 40 seconds later when he beat Raycroft from the top of the right circle.

Matt Stajan put Toronto up 3-2 at 15:44 of the second when he beat Gerber with a slap shot from the slot. But the Senators dominated the third period and finally pulled even when Heatley converted Meszaros’ cross-ice pass.

Wire Services contributed to this story
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