WARREN'S PIECE: Brown humbled by franchise-record seven-game goal-scoring streak

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It’s intriguing to see Connor Brown in a record-setting, goal-scoring spotlight of his own.

For most of his career, he has been a bit like the potato beside the steak, the complementary side dish to the sizzle.

In his junior days with the OHL’s Erie Otters, Connor McDavid received the headlines.

In his early NHL days with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was the conscientious checker skating in the background behind teenaged stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

With the Senators, he has continued that role, along with becoming a voice of experience for the young wave of forward prospects including Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Tim Stuetzle, Drake Batherson and Alex Formenton.

But there he was on the Zoom call following Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Maple Leafs, talking about being the sole owner of a franchise-record seven-game goal-scoring streak.

“It means a lot, to be honest,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve grinded pretty hard in my career. There have been times when I’ve been a checker. I’ve had a real good opportunity here under D.J. (Smith, Senators coach). He has let me play offensively, find my game, and I really feel like I’m finding it more and more. Last season, I found it. This season, I feel like I’m finding another step. I’m just going to keep building off that.”

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Brown acknowledged being a little surprised to be standing alone on the consecutive games goal scoring front, given all the natural scoring talent that has rolled through Ottawa over the years.

Ottawa Senators right wing Drake Batherson (19) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Arena.
Ottawa Senators right wing Drake Batherson (19) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Photo by Nick Turchiaro /USA TODAY Sports

Batherson scored in six straight earlier this season, matching Jason Spezza’s franchise record and both just happened to be on the ice Saturday.

Senators history also includes natural goal scoring talents including Alexei Yashin, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat and Dany Heatley.

Brown mentioned “Hall of Famers” including Spezza, which was getting ahead of himself. Hossa is the only one of that group who has such an honour, but the sentiment wasn’t lost.

“Any time you can through your name in with guys like that, it feels pretty good,” he said. “It’s a confidence booster.”

For the season, Brown has 13 goals and 10 assists, but if he had cashed in half of his breakaways this season — many of them shorthanded — he would have 20 goals by now.

“He had a reset mentally there, seven or eight or nine games ago,” said Smith. “He just went back to work. When you work, you get rewarded.”

Brown usually plays in straight lines and most of the goals have come from within four or five feet of the net.

“When you go to the net, good things happen and sometimes you get some breaks and (Saturday), he sets a franchise record and that’s exciting for us.”

TRADE WINDS: Why did the Senators sign Belleville defenceman Cody Goloubef to a one-year contract extension and then place him on waivers Sunday morning? It made a lot more sense later Sunday, when Mike Reilly was traded to the Boston Bruins for a third round pick. Goloubef, who played 24 games with the Senators last season, could be recalled to the taxi squad Monday.

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Ottawa Senators left wing Alex Formenton scores a goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell during the second period at Scotiabank Arena.
Ottawa Senators left wing Alex Formenton scores a goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Photo by Nick Turchiaro /USA TODAY Sports

THE GIVE AND TAKE: Any time a team scores five goals and loses, there are usually positives and negatives galore and Saturday was no different. Other than Brown’s goal, the Senators scorers came from an all under-22 bunch: Batherson, Formenton, Norris and Stuetzle, whose goal broke a 13-game goalless drought. At the same time, it was a rough defensive night for Norris and Brady Tkachuk, who sported a plus/minus of minus 4 and defenceman Thomas Chabot, who checked in at minus 3. “In general, as a team, you have to manage the puck the next shift after you score,” Smith said, suggesting it was team-wide issue, not solely resting on the shoulders of the youngest players. “You want to try to win the draw, you want to get it in (their end). We turned it over and kind of gave them a freebie. We turned it over and Matthews gets a freebie in front of the net. If you’re going to beat one of the best teams in the league, which Toronto is, you can’t give them freebies.”

WHEELER AND WINNIPEG: Blake Wheeler hasn’t played since suffering a concussion when elbowed by Brady Tkachuk last Monday. With the Jets beginning a two-game set against the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Monday, Tkachuk will need to keep his head up … It’s somewhat fitting that Formenton has scored two of his three goals this season against the Maple Leafs. He grew up in Toronto, never far away from the Battle of Ontario. “Growing up around the Toronto area and watching the Leafs growing up, it was definitely a game circled on the calendar.”

kwarren@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Citizenkwarren

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