Ottawa traveled north from Calgary in an attempt to defeat Edmonton and complete the rare (for the Senators) Alberta Sweep. These two surprising clubs are headed in opposite directions, with Ottawa winning their last 2 on the road and the Oilers returning home after losing their last 3 away from Rexall.
The goaltending matchup as expected was Craig Anderson for the Senators and Nikolai Khabibulin for the Oilers. Could Ottawa ensure at least coming home from their 6 game road trip with at least a .500 record?
THE FIRST PERIOD
The Oilers’ kid line got the first good scoring chance early on as Craig Anderson had to be sharp in making a save off of Jordan Eberle. After that initial flurry, the teams went on a feeling-out process, until near the midway mark of the period, where Anderson was called on to make a couple of great saves in close off of Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Ottawa netminder answered the call on both chances. Right after those saves, Jason Spezza sent linemates Milan Michalek and Colin Greening in 2-on-1. Michalek passed to Greening who found the back of the net to give the Senators the lead. The Senators didn’t waste any time, as 9 seconds later Kaspars Daugavins carried it to the top of the circle on the left wing and fired a wrister past Nikolai Khabibulin‘s glove to give Ottawa a 2 goal lead. A late Ottawa power play for Ottawa gave them the opportunity to extend the lead, but they couldn’t cash in. Just after the penalty expired, however, off a Spezza face-off win Michalek’s quick shot off the draw eluded Khabibulin to give them the 3-0 lead with just under a minute left.
THE SECOND PERIOD
Devan Dubnyk was in the Edmonton net to start the second period as Khabibulin was given the rest of the night off, allowing 3 goals on 7 shots. Ottawa got an early period power play as Theo Peckam hog-tied Eric Condra behind the Edmonton net. Instead of putting a nail in the Edmonton coffin, Anton Lander snuck in shorthanded after Erik Karlsson misplayed it at the Oilers blue line. Lander beat Anderson short side for his first career goal. As the midway point of the period approached, Jesse Winchester was sent on a breakaway, and looked like he was going to stop because he thought he heard a whistle. Looking back and seeing himself still being chased, Winchester turned back around and lifted a quick snapshot over Dubnyk’s glove to restore the 3 goal cushion. It was Winchester’s first goal of the season. Brian Lee took a marginal penalty call for guiding Nugent-Hopkins into the boards with just over a minute left to give the Oilers their first power play of the game, but they couldn’t score in the time remaining and the penalty carried over to the 3rd. The tight 2nd period saw on 6 total shots on goal, 3 for each team.
THE THIRD PERIOD
The role players continued to shine for the Senators, as Zenon Konopka got to use his hands for something other than fighting as he snuck one past Dubnyk from a scramble just off the side of the crease. Spezza created a turnover for himself in the offensive end, but his attempt to go over the shoulder of the 6’5″ Dubnyk went over the crossbar. A Filip Kuba penalty with just over two minutes left allowed the penalty kill one more chance, and they did a good job of protecting their net until Ryan Jones deflected Eric Belanger‘s point shot past a screened Anderson Playing with only 4 defensemen for much of the last two periods (Andy Sutton didn’t start the game, and Corey Potter left early in the second), the Oilers tried to give it all they could to come back, but they didn’t have the bullets on this night to penetrate Anderson’s armour. The Ottawa goalie was actually busier than both of Edmonton’s combined, making 23 saves on 25 shots
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3.Milan Michalek – 1G, 1A in first period outburst
2. Jason Spezza - 2A, and created a number of quality scoring chances
1. Craig Anderson – Not overly busy, but key first period saves allowed the Sens to run away and hide for once
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
It was nice to see the Senators come out of the box hot in the first period for a change. The had scored only 9 first period goals in the first 19 games this season, and got 3 against the Oilers.
The line of Smith, Daugavins and Condra has progressed nicely and would have to be placed among the best “3rd” lines in the NHL at the moment. They have chipped in some offense in addition to their grinding, defensive prowess. In fact, the 3rd line exceeded the 2nd line in terms of ice time, earning the playing time from Paul MacLean with their solid all-around play.
Stephane Da Costa has shown me in this audition as 2nd line centre that he could use some time in Binghamton to get some confidence in his play. He is skilled enough, but seems like the type of player who needs some success to progress, and he isn’t getting that right now. The 2nd line was almost invisible for most of the game, and it could be due to the play up the middle.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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