Highlight: Sharks blank Senators
Sharks have plenty of incentives in rout of Sens
OTTAWA -- Dany Heatley got up before the game and got his teammates' attention in good hockey tradition.
And it wasn't just chump change to buy dinner in Montreal on Friday night.
"It's more than a dinner, trust me," Clowe smiled.
As if the Sharks even needed the extra incentive. They wanted this one badly for their teammate, who felt the healthy wrath of Ottawa Senators fans in their first shot at him since his forced trade 15 months ago.
Consider a 4-0 Thursday night whitewash of the home club mission accomplished and then some.
Booed lustily every time he touched the puck, including in warm-ups, Heatley didn't flinch. He was bursting with energy, especially in the first period, en route to a solid effort with one assist.
"He was kind of quiet earlier today," Clowe said. "He wasn't too rattled, he doesn't get rattled. The way he came out and played was impressive."
A goal would have been sweet, Heatley admitted.
"It would have been nice," he said. "But I had chances and that's all you can ask for. I thought Jumbo [Joe Thornton] and Patty [Patrick Marleau] played real well tonight."
The role of villain didn't intimidate Heatley whatsoever. Neither did the booing.
"Once it starts, you kind of tune it out," Heatley said. "I got a good taste of it in warm-up and figured that would be the way it would be the whole game."
"I was a little jealous actually, he got a lot of attention. I like attention," said Sharks blueliner Douglas Murray.
Lots of laughs in the visitors' room. The Sharks have had an inconsistent season and Thursday night put together one of their better efforts, rallying around Heatley's situation and coming together as a team.
"It was good motivation. It was kind of a playoff atmosphere," Clowe said.
The heckling of Heatley continued all night. The only surprise is that the crowd's jeers didn't turn toward the Senators by the end of the night.
On a night built up locally all week, the Sens folded after a strong first period. It was a pathetic effort in the final 40 minutes, almost as pathetic as the 1,000-plus seats left unsold for the game. You want to talk about Ottawa fans sending a message? How about empty seats in a Canadian market. There's your message. Sens fans aren't buying what this team has to offer anymore.
It's ugly here in Ottawa and GM Bryan Murray has a big decision to make, perhaps way sooner than he ever wanted: Does he fire head coach Cory Clouston? I suspect that decision isn't too far away.
From this vantage point, it looks as though the players and the coach are no longer on the same wavelength.
"We have too many fragile players," Clouston said afterward. "What I mean by that is as soon as something goes wrong, we don't have the pushback right now."
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson turned the accountability to himself and his teammates when asked about the coach being under fire right now.
"Nobody looks good right now," the classy veteran said. "I can only speak for myself but I'm sure most of the other guys feel the same way, we're not having great years. I have to be better myself. There's always a pecking order in an organization [referring to Clouston] but I only look as far as myself and my teammates and we're not playing up to our standards."
More specifically, Alfredsson sees a team with no transition game.
"We don't move the puck well enough through the neutral zone," Alfredsson said. "We can't really get our forecheck going. That's been a theme for us. We have to get stronger in that area. We have to be more poised with the puck at times. We're chasing the puck most of the time."
The captain sighed.
"It's always frustrating when it's like this," he said. "It's easy to look and blame ... We have to believe in what we're doing."
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.
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