Joe Corvo’s reserved manner is a stark contrast to the booming slapshots he unleashes from the point.
But the second-year Senators blueliner can’t help grinning when reminded of the biggest goal he’s ever scored in an Ottawa uniform. The bouncing, seeing eye shot that found its way past the Sabres’ Ryan Miller in the second overtime period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final and silenced a raucous crowd at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
The Sabres never recovered, and the Senators marched on to the first Stanley Cup final in modern-franchise history.
“It was a fun goal and a fun time, and it was a crucial game,” said Corvo, a 30-year-old native of Oak Park, Ill. “It had been talked about all year that Buffalo…. It was their year.
"It was probably the best hockey moment in my career.”
The feverish post-season run, which captivated the nation’s capital, also offered a rather vivid reminder that Corvo wasn’t in California anymore. That it wasn’t anything like playing in Los Angeles for the Kings, the team that picked the 6-foot, 204-pounder in the fourth round of the 1997 NHL entry draft.
“It’s pretty obvious hockey is the biggest thing around here,” said Corvo, who signed on with the Senators as a free agent during the summer of 2006. “It’s the national pastime here. In L.A., it was a lot quieter and a lot easier to play.”
But now that he’s in his second season here, Corvo admits he’s much more settled as a regular on the Senators blue line. He’s seeing increased power-play time this season, and has been a major contributor offensively on that unit.
“It’s kind of the only time that you can get a bit more (ice) time, and you can do things with the puck that you don’t normally do,” he said. “You get more touches. It’s more fun.”
But nothing, as Corvo discovered last spring, could have been more fun than his voyage through the NHL playoffs in a hockey-mad city last spring.
“That was a lot of fun. It made hockey a lot of fun,” said Corvo. “You realize why you play. You play (so you can) play in the post-season. The regular season is just positioning and mental wear.
“(The playoffs) is the fun time to play.”
Corvo has spent plenty of time this season playing alongside Luke Richardson, a 20-year NHL veteran. He uses the word “impressive” to describe that kind of longevity in the world’s best hockey league.
“You look at guys like him and Chris Chelios, and you take things from them if you want to play longer and add years to your career,” said Corvo.