With a pair of players returning from the injured list, but one notable addition to the trainer’s room (Sergei Gonchar) takes away experience from an already youthful blueline. Can Peter Regin be the top 6 forward the Senators so desperately need, and can Matt Carkner provide 15 solid minutes in his first game since February?
THE FIRST PERIOD
A very early penalty cost the Senators right away as 4 seconds after Zack Smith’s hooking penalty, Alex Edler‘s point shot beat Craig Anderson short side to put the Canucks on the board early. Ottawa put the pressure on after that, a flurry that was sparked by Chris Neil decking Manny Malholtra, who didn’t exactly have the puck when he was hit. However, it was the Canucks who netted the next goal as Ryan Kesler deflected Jannik Hansen‘s cross-ice pass past Anderson to make it 2-0 ‘Nucks. The rest of the period saw some bad blood, as Neil continued to get under the skin of the Cancuks, and then it was Nick Foligno‘s turn as he caught Cody Hodgson with a check that knocked the young Canuck loopy. Foligno answered the bell on his next shift when he was challenged by Dale Weise, and Foligno pretty much cleaned his clock in a spirited bout. Neil was involved again in a shoving match with both Sedins, aided by Alex Burrows grabbing Neil’s sweater from the bench. Through 20 minutes, the Senators trailed 2-0 but showed some grit and signs of life that could bode well for the final 40 minutes.
THE SECOND PERIOD
Anderson made a couple of great saves off the bat, most notably getting across to rob Burrows in the slot. Kesler struck again while sitting in the crease for a power play goal just over 8 and a half minutes in. He was pushed into the crease by Chris Phillips which is why there was no goaltender interference call. Foligno had another crushing hit, this time on Kesler, who was in the process of falling when Foligno stapled him to the boards. Foligno was given a boarding penalty and then a 10 minute misconduct for “not agreeing” with the call. As the period wound down, Ottawa finally got on the board when Colin Greening finally solved Luongo. A late power play would carry over to the third period and
THE THIRD PERIOD
On the second Ottawa power play of the period, Jason Spezza missed a wide open net on a great pass from Daniel Alfredssson, and then Neil drew a cross-checking penalty to give the Sens an extended 2 man advantage. Ottawa could not capitalize, and to add injury to insult, Alfie left the ice favouring his shoulder after being cross-checked on the arm by Hansen. Any thoughts of an Ottawa comeback were dashed with just under 4 minutes left when Weise cut to the front of the net in between Neil and Anderson and tucked it around Anderson’s pad to give the Canucks a 4-1 lead. That was it for scoring as Vancouver did a good job blocking shots in front of Luongo and not allowing the Senators to penetrate to the scoring areas.
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Chris Neil (OTT) – Was the only Senator who looked like he acutally wanted to play this game.
2. Dan Hamhuis (VAN) – A monster on the blue line, especially the PK to keep the Ottawa PP off the board
1. Ryan Kesler (VAN) - 2G, 1A and his usual pain in the ass to play against.
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
It’s too bad these teams only play twice a year. This was a fast paced, hard hitting, intense match that was even closer than the score would indicate. A couple of bounces and the Senators could have come away with a point or two that they didn’t really deserve.
Nick Foligno added some physicality to his stellar play of late. His hits and fight were something that was missing from his game. You don’t want him fighting very often, but he proved that he can hold his own in his scrap with Weise.
With almost 1,900 games of NHL experience missing from the blueline (Gonchar 1086, Kuba 743), the Ottawa defence was exposed by the talented Canucks in the defensive end and on the offensive side they looked nervous and out of synch. With two top power play point men out, it fell to David Rundblad and Alfredsson to man the point on the PP, a job that Alfredsson isn’t familiar with and Rundblad isn’t really ready for.
Peter Regin was cautious in his return, and wasn’t really thrown to the wolves. With Foligno sitting for 17 minutes, it disrupted any chance for the second line to get any chemistry going.
The Sens are in action next on Tuesday night as they head to Buffalo to face the Sabres on yet another one game road trip. This will be the 6th time this season that the Senators are away for one game and then return home. They will be looking to snap a three game losing streak (although they earned a point against NJ on Thursday) against the Sabres before they face the red-hot Bruins then following night back at home.
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