The day before the historic occasion, someone asked Chris Phillips, rather playfully, if he thought he might get a chance to do his one-arm, stick-raised salute against Nashville.
In other words, score a goal, his first in nearly a year, while playing in career game 1,000.
Phillips turned his head to face the questioner, smiled and said, “Wouldn’t that be nice?”
As though he would hardly dare to dream such a thing.
As it turned out, scoring two was twice as nice.
What a night at the old rink. Two goal performances by Phillips, the usually stay-home defenceman, two by Jason Spezza, and the Senators hang on to be beat a very good Predators team 4-3.
Magic dust was in the air. The Preds themselves were motivated to try to win it for Mike Fisher in his Ottawa homecoming.
But in the end, Fish couldn’t trump Philly, who couldn’t wipe the grin off his face as he sat on the bench wondering how he ended up in the middle of this bizarre but wondrous dream.
To Spezza, the events were proof that hockey gods exist, rewarding one of the good guys in the game in Phillips.
“There isn’t a player in this room who doesn’t hold Philly in high regard,” said Spezza.
On memory, there hasn’t been a better performance for a player’s 1,000th game. Watching the vibe course through the Senators bench like a surge of electricity, an observer was left to wonder: How is it the threat of falling out of a playoff spot, and a losing streak mounting to five, six and then seven games, could not provide the motivation of one man playing in a milestone game?
Where it takes the Senators from here is anyone’s guess. For now, we’ll accept that what we experienced on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place was one of the special events in the history of the franchise.
A moment worth framing, just like the scoresheet that shows No. 4 of Ottawa producing a pair of goals, including the game winner.
Game No. 1,000 = One Grand Night.