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Northeast: Ennis won't soon forget first NHL goal

by James Murphy /
Tyler Ennis never will forget this past Saturday.

Ennis woke up in Portland on Saturday, took part in the AHL Pirates' morning skate and was boarding a bus for Bridgeport, Conn., when he was told he was needed in Philadelphia to fill in for injured Sabres forward Drew Stafford that night.

The rookie ended up scoring a second-period goal that gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead and helped Buffalo earn a big 3-2 victory on the road.

"It was a special night," Ennis told Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News. "It was just an unbelievable feeling. It sets in that you dreamt about playing in the NHL, and I scored my first goal. It was an indescribable feeling."

Coach Lindy Ruff was impressed with the youngster and praised him for his courage against towering Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger.

"I thought he played a great game," Ruff said. "He gave us some energy. He made a couple of great plays. He could have had a couple goals in the game, and he made a couple of other really nice plays. He even took a run at Pronger. That didn't work out too good."

A Sabres 2008 first-round pick (No. 26), Ennis was second in scoring for Portland behind Mark Mancari with 6 goals and 13 points when he was called up. The Edmonton, Alta., native had 43 goals and 85 points in 61 games last season with Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League.

Stafford will be a game-time decision for Wednesday's game against Florida, as is defenseman Toni Lydman (groin). Mike Grier (groin) is day-to-day.

Good news for struggling Bruins -- The Bruins have lost three straight and are coming off one of their worst performances of the season in a 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Monday. But they received some positive news after Tuesday's practice.

Injured forwards Marc Savard (broken left foot) and Milan Lucic (broken right index finger), who have been out since Nov. 18 and Nov. 21, respectively, could return for Boston's upcoming four-game road trip, which starts Thursday in Atlanta. Both will be game-time decisions, with Lucic more likely than Savard to be in the lineup.

"I'm looking forward towards Thursday, but it's still going to be a game-time decision if I play or not," Lucic said. "I got that mobility back. It's still not at 100 percent but it's almost to 100 percent, so now I am just working on trying to get (all) my strength back. Again, it feels great ... not so much soreness anymore. So hopefully I can make my return back in the lineup soon."

Savard, who has been skating with the team for the past two days, also is ahead of schedule.

"It's a good sign, obviously," said coach Claude Julien after practice. "It's nice to see him back on skates, and hopefully we'll see him back with the team soon."

Savard was optimistic as well, and is looking forward to getting out and helping his team.

"I felt really good," Savard said after his first skate Tuesday. "I was twisting and turning and trying to do some extra things. It felt great shooting and passing. I just can't wait to get back out there. I'm ready to go. Hopefully practice goes well (Wednesday), and it will be Claude's decision."

Price getting better -- Carey Price has had his problems this season with a 5-8-0 record, a 2.99 goals-against average and .906 save percentage following Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win against Carolina, a game in which he stopped 30 of 32 shots. But on most nights he has given his team a chance to win.

He stole a game for the Canadiens with a 42-save performance in a 2-1 shootout win at Boston on Nov. 5 and this past Saturday against Nashville he almost stole another with 53 saves in a 2-0 loss. His effort didn't get him and his team a win, but it did not go unnoticed.

"There's no doubt that he kept us in the game, but it's unfortunate that his teammates didn't take advantage of it," coach Jacques Martin told the media following the loss to Nashville. "We didn't compete. We didn't give him (Price) a lot of support when you look at the number of shots they fired at him. We still had a chance at the end. All we had to do was win one period and we couldn't do that."

Forward Mike Cammalleri concurred with his coach.

"Coming in here after the second period, the talk was, 'You know what, boys, it hasn't been pretty, but we can steal one tonight. Our goalie has done the job and we could pull it out with one goal,'" he said.

But they couldn't, and all that was salvaged was a couple of records. Price tied franchise marks for most saves in a period (23, in the first) and in a regulation game (53), but Price said, "We didn't come here for records; we came here to get two points."

Alfredsson not going anywhere -- Daniel Alfredsson signed a four-year extension with the Ottawa Senators last season and at the moment he intends on honoring it and probably finishing his career in Ottawa.

"I think, us as an organization, are doing really good and I think we're on our way up again." -- Daniel Alfredsson

"I think, us as an organization, are doing really good and I think we're on our way up again," Alfredsson told the media recently when asked whether he'd ever consider asking out for a chance to win the Stanley Cup elsewhere. "It's so close now and if you make the playoffs, you have a chance. There might be a few teams before the start of the season where you can say this team has a better chance than the others. (But) look at Pittsburgh last year -- people were wondering by Christmas if they would even make the playoffs. They fire the coach and end up winning the Cup."

Alfredsson wouldn't rule it out, but for now he's content finishing his career with the team he started with. Alfredsson is the longest-serving captain in the NHL and he wants that run to continue.

"I can't see asking for a move," he said. "Never say never, it could happen in the future, but I don't think it's probable. I can't really appreciate it because I'm still living it. When you retire, you really reflect on everything that was. There are a lot of circumstances that come into play. When I started I came into a situation that was favorable for me with (Alexei) Yashin holding out. I came here (in 1995) and got a great opportunity from the beginning and got off to a great start."

Alfredsson admitted there have been points where maybe he would have ended up elsewhere, but he and the team worked through the tough times then and Alfredsson believes they can do it again.

"There's been situations where I thought it would be best for me to move on and the team probably felt the same thing but we've been able to work it through," he said. "I'm fortunate that I was drafted by Ottawa ... I've been able to come to a Canadian city that loves hockey and I've had success. That's probably what I'll look back on the most -- being part of the hockey culture in this country."
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