Chris Phillips announced his retirement from the NHL earlier this afternoon which has a lot of people reflecting back on his tremendous career in the capital so I decided to use #ThrowbackThursday as an excuse to relive the magic that was his 1,000th career game.
First let's set the table: Chris Phillips has 71 goals in 1,179 career games with the Senators.
"That's a lot of goals," said Sens general manager Pierre Dorion as he spoke glowingly about Phillips' contributions to the organization and city during a news conference dedicated to the franchise leader in games played today.
And he's right. Philly's 71 goals rank 3rd all-time in Sens history by a defenceman (behind only Wade Redden and Erik Karlsson) but the point being that his goal scoring prowess was never the main reason he was able to play professional hockey for nearly two decades.
Prior to his 1,000th game, Phillips had three previous two-goal efforts: October 10th, 1998 vs. Colorado, November 22nd, 2001 vs. Calgary and November 19th, 2009 vs. Pittsburgh.
Fast forward to February 9th, 2012 and the Sens are in the midst of a 7-game losing streak as they prepare to host the Nashville Predators. Lots of pre-game talk about busting out of the slump along with thoughts about #4's milestone.
"Usually I don't have to talk to this many cameras on game days," Phillips noted as he discussed what the day meant to him.
An interesting side story for the night was that this game also included the return of Mike Fisher who had been traded to the Predators exactly 364 days prior.
"We've suited up as teammates for so many games," Phillips said of Fisher. "It's great to have him here for tonight."
The night started out pretty much like you'd expect. Mike Fisher received a warm welcome back and there was plenty of pre-game and in-game recognition for the Big Rig. What no one saw coming was what happened next...
"With the whole hype around the night it was fun and exciting to play in my 1,000th game," said Phillips during his post-game media scrum. "But then to top it off with a couple of goals including the game winner...you can't write that stuff."
What allowed Phillips' second tally to become the eventual game winning goal was a late marker by Martin Erat with about 10 seconds left. With Nashville's goalie still on the bench the Sens called a time-out to regroup and plan out how to kill the remaining few seconds.
"When I saw the clipboard come out I said it better be a play to get me the puck." Phillips joked with his teammates.
Moments later the Sens successfully held on for a 4-3 win and snapped their season-long losing streak to cap off a truly memorable night.
"It was pretty special to see the night that Philly had," said Jason Spezza after the game. "To score two goals and play the way he did during his 1,000th game on a night where he was getting the recognition he deserves was a pretty great way to start the game."
"Scoring two goals just proves that there are hockey gods and they rewarded a good person."
Phillips was equally excited speaking with the media post-game after earning first star honours and took time to talk about what the night had meant to him along with the impact it could have on the remainder of the Sens season before ending it with his vintage, classy Chris Phillips gruff tone...
"It turned out to be a pretty unbelievable night."