After two days of R & R, the Ottawa Senators went to Vancouver looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games and also to complete the sweep of Western Canada. This was the last game for Ottawa until Friday, so they have no reason to hold back, the could empty the tank on this one.
The Canucks came into this one still reeling off a terrible start, and are muddling along at the .500 mark. This simply isn’t good enough for the talent on the roster. With Roberto Luongo out with an injury, it was Cory Schneider in the Vancouver net, and Alex Auld made the surprise start as Craig Anderson experienced some stiffness in his neck after the morning skate.
THE FIRST PERIOD
Before the game was 30 seconds old, Jason Spezza got behind the Vancouver D and had the first good chance of the game, but Schneider got his pad across to make the save. Colin Greening‘s hook put the NHL’s #1 PP out against one of the NHL’s hottest PK’s. In this case the PK won, and despite offensive zone possession and a poor Jesse Winchester clearing attempt. Playing with fire, a somewhat controversial high sticking call on Stephane Da Costa put the Canucks right back on the power play. Again, the Sens bent but did not break and kept the game scoreless. Just past the midway point of the period Milan Michalek out-fought Sami Salo for the puck and went in alone, but again Schneider was up to the task. Greening had Ottawa’s two best chances but was also stopped by Schneider on Ottawa’s 1st power play. In what was a guarded first period, the shots were 8 apiece. Cliche, but it was a good road period for the Sens.
THE SECOND PERIOD
The second period opened with a more physical turn as the Senators weren’t happy with the Canucks buzzing by the net after an Auld save, creating a shoving match. Gonchar took a tripping penalty (it was actually Smith who committed the infraction), giving the Canucks yet another man advantage. Something you don’t see very often, Michalek got stood up as he tried to carry the puck out of the Ottawa zone, and got knocked on his butt by Dan Hamhuis. Henrik Sedin broke the deadlock when his shot from the slot was deflected by Winchester’s stick and past Auld. Ottawa got a power play after Kaspars Daugavins was nailed from behind by Andrew Alberts. Although they didn’t score, they seemed to gain momentum and after the penalty was over, Spezza, Michalek and Greening had a great shift but couldn’t solve Schneider. Ottawa’s power play struggles continued, as they gave up multiple odd-man rushes, but Auld stood strong. The period ended with the same 1-0 score, as Auld kept them in the game and the Senators struggled to find their legs.
THE THIRD PERIOD
The Canucks had the Senators hemmed in their own zone for the better part of two minutes, making it look like a power play. Auld made 3 or 4 great saves to keep the Senators within one. It was a good thing, because after a Vancouver icing call, Spezza found Greening on the doorstep and it was a brand new game, tied 1-1. The momentum continued to shift towards the Senators, and Karlsson drew a penalty on Bieksa. A couple of great chances on the PP for the Senators, as Smith had a one timer on a rebound, but Alex Edler blocked the shot, and then Schneider robbed Michalek on a breakaway with his glove. Karlsson had a chance with seconds left, but missed the net on the 4 on 2. Regulation ended with a tie game, so it went to bonus hockey, with the teams playing for the extra point.
Spezza got away with a hook early on, but it went unnoticed (or at least uncalled). Condra had a fantastic chance driving to the net, but Schneider made an equally fantastic save. Vancouver took the win when Chris Higgins tipped in Hamhuis’ shot past Auld
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Jason Spezza – 1A, and nobody was more dangerous in this game
2. Alex Auld – 25 saves for the surprise starter
1. Corey Schneider – stole one for the Canucks with 28 saves
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
Rather cheap play, and you can’t tell me it wasn’t intentional, for Alex Burrows to open the Canucks bench door right before Maxim Lapierre hit Winchester in to the boards. Classless play, and then a minute or so later, Daniel Sedin had the nerve to complain when he was hit (legally) by Daugavins coming off the Ottawa bench, because he wasn’t aware Daugavins was there.
Peter Regin can’t get back soon enough, as the Stephane Da Costa experiment is not working right now. He was relegated to 4th line duty for periods of this game, with Bulter moving up with Spezza, and Michalek moving to the wing with Foligno and Alfredsson. Foligno might be a better fit up the middle right now, at least until the Dane can return from his shoulder injury. Da Costa was in and out of the doghouse all night, and it messed with the team chemistry in the third period.
Brian Lee played a very solid game, in that you didn’t hear his name mentioned much. That is a good thing when it comes to this player, as it means he isn’t making mistakes and taking risks. He played a good 12 minutes, when called upon he did his job.
You have to give the Senators credit for taking 7 out of 10 points so far on this road trip. They now have 4 days off to return home and recharge the batteries before heading out to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins next Friday.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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