All training camp long centre Jim O’Brien has been the forgotten centre for the Ottawa Senators. The general assumption is that O’Brien will be the odd man out in the middle when cut down day comes the victim of being behind a group that includes Jason Spezza Kyle Turris Mika Zibanejad Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. As a result O’Brien could be available off waivers next week. Clearly though O’Brien isn’t going away quietly. O’Brien was in the right place at the right time Tuesday during the Senators’ 3-2 win at the Air Canada Centre. He broke a 1-1 tie when Corey Cowick’s pass deflected off his skate past Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer. Colin Greening padded the lead to 3-1 only 1:55 later also taking advantage of a lucky bounce off a Leafs skate. Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf narrowed the gap to 3-2 beating Senators goaltender Robin Lehner on a pretty 2-on-1 break. The Senators were the better team most of the night with Reimer routinely stopping breakaways and odd man rushes in the opening two periods to keep the Maple Leafs in the game. Perhaps the Maple Leafs were distracted still dealing with the repercussions of Sunday’s brawl against the Buffalo Sabres. Oddly enough David Clarkson who received an automatic 10-game suspension from the regular season for jumping off the Maple Leafs bench to join the fun is still allowed to play in the pre-season and he was in Toronto’s lineup Tuesday. Phil Kessel who was suspended for the rest of the preseason schedule Tuesday for his stick-swinging antics is eligible to return for the regular season. The Maple Leafs didn’t look particular sharp. Outside of Senators killer Reimer that is. Reimer who has an all-time regular season record of 8-1-1 and three shutouts against the Senators clearly isn’t going to give away his starting job to newcomer Jonathan Bernier without a fight. He stoned Cowick and Stephane Da Costa on breakaways robbed Andre Petersson on a 2-on-1 break by sliding across the crease and made outstanding pad stops off Da Costa and Mark Stone.
Jim O’Brien stakes his claim to roster spot on Senators
Ottawa Citizen | Sep 26