|Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov has provided unexpected offence for Ottawa in the playoffs. Photo: L. Redkoles/Getty Images/NHLI|
by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov was still brimming with happiness today after leading his team to a 2-1 win last night and a 3-1 series lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals.
Volchenkov's third-period goal, the second goal of his career in the playoffs, stood up as the game-winner.
"I'm not a big scoring guy," Volchenkov admits. "I just had one goal (in the regular season). This was a big goal for me, and the team, too."
The defensive-minded defenceman is better known for other contributions he provides as a shut-down player.
While everyone was talking about Volchenkov's goal from last night, he teamed up with partner Chris Phillips to limit the chances of Penguins star Sidney Crosby once again. Volchenkov recorded three hits and five blocked shots in Game 4.
"For him, with the way he's played for this hockey team, it's a nice reward (to score), but... (winning) was the most important for us," Senators head coach Bryan Murray says.
Senators forward Mike Comrie, who assisted Volchenkov's one-timer from the blueline, says it's important to receive scoring from all players throughout the lineup.
"We have a lot of depth here, and when you get goals from everybody, it takes a lot of pressure off certain individuals. We know our top lines are going to get a lot of chances and are going to score a lot goals, but if we can get everybody else to chip in, it goes a long way."
Volchenkov's first career playoff marker came during his rookie season on April 16, 2003, in a 3-1 victory against the New York Islanders. It, too, was the game-winning goal.
Saprykin fits right in
Making his playoff debut for Ottawa last night, forward Oleg Saprykin provided lots of energy and created several scoring chances for himself, as well as linemates Christoph Schubert and Dean McAmmond.
"You just have to be ready every (playoff) game," Saprykin says. "There's not going to be any chance to coast a little bit. You've got to get in right away and be ready to make something happen every shift. There's no time off."
Saprykin gained experience in playoff action during the Calgary Flames' run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, when he scored three goals and six points in 26 games.
"I know what it's like," Saprykin says. "It's not like I was just jumping in to my first game of the playoffs (last night). Every round is going to be harder and harder, and that's what makes your team stronger."