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Northeast: Sutton means more traffic in Ottawa

by James Murphy
The Ottawa Senators already had the League's fifth-best shot-blocker on their blue line in Anton Volchenkov, who has kept 143 shots from reaching the net, and now they have added another expert at clogging the lanes to the goalie. On Tuesday, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray acquired towering defenseman Andy Sutton from the Islanders in exchange for a 2010 second-round pick. Sutton is second in the NHL with 153 blocked shots.

"We were fortunate we had that second second-round pick," Murray told the Ottawa Citizen. The pick belonged to the San Jose Sharks, which the Senators got in the Dany Heatley deal. Previously, Murray had dealt his own second-round pick to the Hurricanes for Matt Cullen. "I'm not sure the amateur (scouts) are all real happy with me at the moment. We have a fairly decent hockey team that is competitive. I wanted to give this particular group every chance come playoff time, if we get there. I think we've sent the message to the players that we care, we want to win, we're going to help them in any way we can."

The 6-foot-6 Sutton was thrilled to come to a contending team and have a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.

"I am ecstatic," said Sutton. "It is an unbelievable opportunity, and being an older player and getting the chance to play on such a great team and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup is a dream come true."

Bergeron brought home gold and sore groin -- The Bruins thought they would be playing the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday with their first healthy lineup of the season, but it was too good to be true as Patrice Bergeron returned from his gold-medal winning experience in Vancouver with an injured groin.

Bergeron told the media he is day-to-day and hopes to be in the lineup when the Bruins play Toronto on Thursday. The Bruins missed him Tuesday as they gave up four third-period goals in a 4-1 loss to the Habs.

"I hurt my groin the first week of the tournament and it was fine, but then the last week it got worse, so I'll rest and take it day by day and hopefully I can play Thursday," Bergeron said.

But Bergeron brought back something good from his Olympic experience, and prior to the game Tuesday, his gold medal and Tim Thomas' silver were on display for fans to see at TD Garden.

For Bergeron, winning the gold and then putting it on after Canada's 3-2 overtime win, was something he never will forget.

"(Wearing the gold medal) is great," he said. "Obviously you watch the Olympics -- I've been watching the Olympics since I was a kid -- to actually be there and live the experience as an athlete has been unbelievable to me. And to actually have a gold medal, it's even more … no one can take that away from me."

Miller earned his day off -- Sabres goaltender and U.S. Olympic hero Ryan Miller was back in uniform for the Sabres on Tuesday in their 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh, but after his amazing Olympic run, coach Lindy Ruff thought it would be best for Miller to take the night off and gave the start to backup Patrick Lalime. This meant that Miller missed playing against Sidney Crosby, who scored the overtime winner on Miller to beat the U.S. team for the gold medal.

Miller still was stinging from the loss, but he is starting to appreciate just how special the magical run by him and his team was.

"Not really," Miller told the Buffalo News when asked if he was getting over the heartbreaking loss. "We had come back from that 2-0 hole and I thought we had a chance. But we did a good job and had a lot of fun. But it was fun and obviously a great game and I think we did a lot for American hockey, so hopefully the fans in America enjoyed it."

Miller isn't afraid he or any other Sabres player will be affected by the break from NHL hockey, and actually likened Team USA's play to that of the Sabres.

"I don't think this changes anything," he said. "Our goal was and is to finish off in the best position possible and get to the Stanley Cup. I don't think that changes. Earlier in the season, people weren't thinking about us being in this position.

"But look at when Brian Burke picked our team for the Olympics -- no one thought we'd do what we did. It's kind of the same here in Buffalo. We had a great start, had a little hiccup here in the middle and now that we've had some time to collect our thoughts, we'll put our minds back to it."

Canadiens put break to good use -- The Canadiens returned to the ice Tuesday with a much healthier lineup. Defenseman Andrei Markov (lower body), and forwards Andrei Kostitsyn (knee) and Benoit Pouliot all returned in the Habs' 4-1 win at Boston on Tuesday. Meanwhile, forward Michael Cammalleri's rehab for a knee injury is going better than expected and he could return by mid-March. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron also could return from a knee injury soon.

"I think the break really helped a lot of our guys," forward Brian Gionta told Tuesday. "We're getting healthier, and even the guys playing that have some nagging injuries are probably better off from the break, so it's good timing here as we get ready for the stretch."

Defenseman Hal Gill concurred and is looking forward to having some healthy bodies back to form some chemistry.

"It's great seeing guys like Markov and Andrei (Kostitsyn) come back because now we can try and form some good chemistry," he said. "It's been a tough stretch with these injuries and we really haven't had the greatest chance to gel because there are always different lines or d-pairings."

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