In what is somewhat of a surprise, the Buffalo Sabres started Jhonas Enroth in place of Ryan Miller. Enroth started on Friday night against Calgary and it was assumed that Miller would be going back in. However Miller has lost his last 4 games and Lindy Ruff chose to go with the hot hand for this match. No surprise in the Ottawa net as Craig Anderson looked to end a personal and club 2 game losing streak.
This is the first time the clubs have met this season, and the games between the two teams are always intense no matter where each club sits in the standings.
THE FIRST PERIOD
Since both teams retooled in the off-season, they are very different looking than the clubs that have faced off in years past. This explains the tentative start as both teams went through a feeling out process. Bobby Butler got away with one early on as his stick caught Derek Roy in the mouth but was not caught by officials despite Roy’s customary overacting on the play. Ottawa had the first really good scoring chance almost 13 minutes in as Sergei Gonchar‘s point shot was deflect by Nick Foligno but just went over the net. With six minutes remaining in the period, Filip Kuba took the game’s first penalty for closing his hand on the puck. Before the power play could get really established, Roy negated the power play as he tripped Zack Smith on a 2-on-1. On the 4-on-4, Ottawa executed a perfect breakout that resulted in the game’s first goal. Anderson’s save went to the stick of Chris Phillips, who carried it up to the blue line and hit a streaking Milan Michalek in full flight. Michalek knifed through the Buffalo foursome and buried a backhander far side to give the Senators a 1-0 lead. The first period was really a snoozefest, but the Senators came away with a rare 1-0 lead.
THE SECOND PERIOD
This was a more wide open affair as some sloppy play led to more scoring opportunites for both clubs. Early on Jason Pominville had a couple of early chances, but Anderson was equal to the task. Erik Karlsson is just a little but uglier today as he was hit in the chops with a deflected puck that went off his own stick right into his chicklets, a closeup later in the game showed that he has some dental work required in the near future. Credit to the young Swede, he made the clearing play before heading to the bench. Gonchar took a very ill-advised holding penalty as he grabbed Pominville’s arm and half spun him around. Luke Adam had a glorious opportunity to even the score but he couldn’t corral the boucing puck to put a rebound behind Anderson. Winchester had a clear breakaway shorthanded, and his quick wrister beat Enroth but found iron. Seconds later Kaspars Daugavins just missed tapping a shot off the back boards into the open net. Stephan Da Costa deflected a Gonchar shot in close, but the post saved Enroth for the second time in a minute. Shortly thereafter, the Sabres got on the board as Roy deflected Ville Leino‘s shot past Anderson. Just past the halfway point of the game and the score is knotted up at 1. It didn’t stay that way long, however as Jordan Leopold pinching in from the point capitalized on a goalmouth scramble to put the Sabres up front. The Senators showed fight-back as Erik Condra caught the Sabres on a horrendous line change, giving the Senators fourth liner a breakaway from centre ice. Condra went 5 hole on Enroth and scored his first of the season. The Senators outshot the Sabres 16-15 in the period, but came away tied 2-2.
THE THIRD PERIOD
Thomas Vanek took a weak tripping penalty on Karlsson to give the Senators an early power play as Ottawa looks for another third period win. It says something about either the way they are playing or the depth in the lineup that the second unit for this power play was Daugavins- Smith and Nikita Filatov. The man advantage couldn’t produce and then Buffalo took over the flow of the game. On numerous occasions, they pinned the Senators in their own end for long periods of time. It was more similar to the first period than the second as neither team wanted to make the mistake that cost their team a point. Buffalo outshot the Sens 10-3 in the period, but didn’t really have a high-quality scoring chance, except for a save on Vanek on a rebound with about 4 minutes left.
Michalek wired one just over the net in the first minute of overtime, but both teams seemed happy to take their chances in the shootout, as there were only 3 total shots on goal, 2 for Buffalo.
The game went to a shootout, where Ottawa was 3-0 heading into this one. Anderson had only allowed one goal in the three shootouts so far. This one required extra shooters, but the shootout went like this:
OTT Michalek GOAL
BUF Vanek GOAL
OTT Spezza GOAL
BUF Boyes GOAL
OTT Karlsson SAVE
BUF Gerbe SAVE
OTT Foligno SAVE
BUF Pominville MISS
OTT Daugavins MISS
BUF Stafford SAVE
OTT Butler SAVE
BUF Roy GOAL
Roy, the Rockland native and all around pain in the Senators’ butt, is probably the last guy Sens fans would have liked to see beat us, but that is what happened. Have to think that having a healthy #11 in the lineup, even just for the shootout, would have helped the Senators. Karlsson could have iced it, but his strength isn’t exactly in the in close deke.
THE POST GAME
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Milan Michalek (1 G, and was the most dangerous Senator all night)
2. Craig Anderson (earned his team a point that they probably didn’t deserve)
1. Derek Roy (1G, SO winner)
Here are the Game Highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
Neither team really showed that they wanted to win this game and it showed, as the shootout was needed.
Jason Spezza is now pointless in two games. The Senators will not win many games that Spezza isn’t the offensive leader for the club, and it shows. He didn’t play a bad game, but he didn’t stand out and when that happens the Senators will have problems for the foreseeable future, especially with Daniel Alfredsson out for an indeterminate period of time.
The official hit count was 23-19 in favor of the Senators, but you would be hard pressed to find a really significant hit. Even Chris Neil couldn’t change the momentum of the game with a big hit. In what you would have to call a tight-checking game, there really wasn’t much “checking” to speak of.
It was a valuable point for the Senators, but also an important point that got away. The Senators have one home game remaining (Wednesday vs NYR) before they head out on the road for almost a month. They only have one home game between Nov 10th and Dec 4th. They play 9 of 10 games in that stretch on the road, and it will be a season-defining segment. A poor road trip and the Senators will be right where most people thought they would be…in the Eastern Conference basement. A good trip and they set themselves up for a playoff spot.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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