This is a battle of two Canadian clubs that don’t meet very often, both of which are struggling to keep their heads above water in their respective conferences. The Ottawa Senators have exceeded the expectations of many and has set a trend of going on extended streaks, having a winning streak of 6 games and a losing streak of 5 games already this season. They won their last game and Sens fans hope it is the start of another winning streak. On the flipside, the Calgary Flames have been inconsistent to say the least. You never know what Flames team is going to show up night to night, and it is driving coach Brent Sutter crazy.
It was Mikka Kiprusoff vs Craig Anderson in this late start (at least by Ottawa standards) as the Senators begin the Western Canada leg of their 6 game road trip.
THE FIRST PERIOD
Anderson started off on a good note, being called on to make a couple of good stops early. Ottawa got the first power play as Mark Giordano‘s slashing penalty might have saved a goal as Bobby Butler had a chance at a rebound and open net, but Giordano got enough of him to knock him offstride. Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Colin Greening all had decent chances on the ensuing power play but couldn’t get one past Kiprusoff. Daniel Alfredsson was in a generous mood so close to the holidays as he gave one away in his own end to his fellow captain, Jarome Iginla that resulted in a good scoring chance for Alex Tanguay. Erik Karlsson made a nice pinch to surprise the Flames forward who thought he had time to make a breakout, and resulted in a good chance for the young Ottawa defenseman. In the last minute, Ottawa had a great pressure shift but Zack Smith got a little overzealous and took a boarding penalty 200 feet from his own end. Ottawa killed the first 27 seconds of the penalty before the period expired, and the Flames PP would carry over to the second. The Flames outshot the Senators 14-11 in an entertaining period.
THE SECOND PERIOD
After successfully killing the rest of Smith’s penalty, Alfredsson committed another defensive zone giveaway, and the period opened up quite a bit. Anderson made a nice save off a point shot from former Senator’s defenseman Derek Smith, which was followed by a lively scrap between Zenon Konopka and Tom Kostopoulos. Konopka had the edge in punches landing and also scored the takedown. Jesse Winchester took a penalty for allegedly holding the stick, and while the Senators were killing that penalty, Erik Condra took a slashing penalty on Curtis Glencross‘ breakaway attempt. With the Senators down two men for just over a minute, Zack Smith took over and dominated the PK, killing off the 2 man advantage almost single-handedly. Next, Ottawa got their turn with the man advantage, and Alfredsson was snakebit on two or three chances, and Kaspars Daugavins came in off the bench and wired one from the slot that didn’t get through. Brian Lee took an interference penalty that was once again killed off without Calgary threatening much. With about 5 minutes left Anderson made the save of the game, coming across to rob Iginla who was the recipient of a cross-crease pass from Alex Tanguay. Not to be outdone, Kiprusoff made a nice glove save of Winchester with Nick Foligno causing havoc just outside the crease. A Spezza turnover resulted in another great scoring chance, but Anderson robbed Rene Bourque after the drop pass from Glencross. The magnitude of that save was shown when on the next shift, Alfredsson finally scored a goal against the Flames, as his wrist shot from the slot went over Kipper’s glove, with 1:16 remaining. Thinking the period was over, Anderson gave the puck away to Stajan behind the net, who fed it to Kostopoulos for the open net tap-in to tie it up with 14 seconds left, but it actually went in off of Alfredsson’s stick.
THE THIRD PERIOD
Early in the third, Karlsson took a hooking penalty on Bourque, giving the Flames their 5th man advantage of the game, but Ottawa remained perfect on the PK before Condra drew a penalty of his own. Ottawa had 2 magnificent chances on the PP, as Foligno and Michalek both were within centimetres of giving the Sens the lead. A puck that bounced on Brian Lee created a 3-on-1, but Anderson stopped Tanguay’s shot. Bobby Butler scored his first goal of the season, with a sweet curl and drag move that shows signs that there is still life in his game, giving the Senators their second lead of the game. The Flames attempt to respond quickly was derailed by Chris Butler’s delay of game penalty , allowing Ottawa to keep the momentum. With the monkey off his back, Bobby Butler scored his second of the period (and the season) as he skated down the right wing and simply blew one past Kiprusoff, beating him far side. Ottawa cruised home and Anderson slammed the door, giving Ottawa the much needed 3-1 win.
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Zack Smith – Yeoman’s work on the PK, especially the 2nd period 5-0n-3
2. Bobby Butler – 2 goals, including the game winner
1. Craig Anderson – His costly gaffe aside, he was stellar for the 2nd straight game
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
Craig Anderson was positionally sound and played a whale of a game. His one mental miscue ended up in his net, otherwise his game tonight had shutout written all over it. It was only the second time this season the Senators have held their opposition to less than 2 goals (a 4-1 win over Winnipeg was the other).
Jarome Iginla didn’t have much of an impact on this game, and that suits the Senators just fine. Alfredsson won the battle of the captains, and the Senators win the game. I don’t know if there are two classier men playing the game right now (and you could add Nick Lidstrom to that group). It is going to be a shame when these three players’ careers come to an end.
I remember when Jay Bouwmeester was drafted and I thought he was going to redefine the way the game was played as he was a bigger version of Paul Coffey. I know I wasn’t the only one, but he never really has lived up to those great expectations. He is a very good NHLer, but his skill set always leaves me wanting more.
Former SenShot writer Derrick Brose tweeted during the game that “Yeah, I think Daugavins’ AHL days are behind him. Permanently.” and I would tend to agree. The Latvian has earned a full-time job in Ottawa and his impact has not been felt anywhere more than the penalty kill.
The Senators travel about 20o miles north to face the upstart and surprising Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. It is another late one so get your nap in before the game and go for their third win in a row.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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