Alex Auld improved his record versus Pittsburgh to 6-1-0 but more importantly he got his first win of the year and helped the Ottawa Senators to an important two points. The win keeps Ottawa’s record above .500 and moves them to 9th in the East, just one point behind the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Here’s how the game played out:
The first twenty minutes was probably forgotten by most as it was a seemingly boring period especially compared to the rest of the game. The only power play of the period went to the Senators when Matt Niskanen went off for tripping. They weren’t able to capitalize however and the game remained scoreless after one. Though it wasn’t the most eventful of times, some important things came out of it, one being the play of Alex Auld who stopped all eleven shots he faced.
A complete contrast of the beginning of the first, the middle period was fast and intense, with an early 3 goals coming in a two minute span. Ottawa scored first a mere 25 seconds into the period, with Colin Greening tipping in a Jason Spezza pass. The second assist went to rookie Jared Cowen who went on to have quite the game, the best of his career so far. However it was just over a minute before the lead was lost. Steve Sullivan got the tying goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins, a disappointing one to let in after a great start to the period. That score lasted even less time as the next goal came just 29 seconds later. Spezza regained the Sens 1 goal lead, firing a slap shot past Brent Johnson. Alfredsson and Karlsson picked up the assists as the Sens seemed to have found the perfect first line trio after trying out several combinations over the past few weeks.
That was not the end of it. The goal filled period continued a few minutes later with Daniel Alfredsson getting his second point of the night. Alfie fired a wrister past Johnson, after receiving a pass from play-maker Jason Spezza who already had his third point of the night. The Senators know from recent history however that no leads are safe and their determination to win was tested when they were faced with three straight penalties. The first went to Kaspars Daugavins on a strange goaltender interference call. The Sens killed it off but when Neil went off a few minutes later they were not as successful. With Chris Neil in the box for hooking, Matt Niskanen got one past Auld to decrease the Sens lead to one. With Daniel Alfredsson then going off on a penalty of his own, the Sens were put in a bad position. Only a few seconds into the captain’s penalty, Evgeni Malkin got his twelfth of the year to tie the game at 3.
Again we are not finished. Jared Cowen got his fourth goal of the year, which leads all Sens defenseman, to regain the lead for the Sens. They then increased it with a power play goal of their own. Strangely enough it was Zenon Konopka, who has recently been getting an odd amount of power play time for a fourth line enforcer but he makes the most of it here. Konopka deflected and Erik Karlsson bullet past Johnson to regain the lead. The Period ended 5-3 in favour of the Senators even though they were out shot 24-19.
Sens came into the third period winning, but knowing how quickly that could turn around, they came out strong for the final twenty minutes. The Sens were not about to let this one slip away and they made that clear when Spezza scored his second of the night (point number 4 if you’re keeping track) on Marc-André Fleury who came in at the beginning of the period to relieve Johnson. The high scoring game continued on a little longer with the Penguins’ Chris Kunitz scoring to bring the lead down to two but with only a minute remaining it seemed the Sens would remain on top. The final score was 6-4 for the Ottawa Senators, redemption for the 6-3 loss suffered less than a month ago to the same team.
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*** SenShot’s Three Star ***
1st Star: Jason Spezza – Much needed production from Spezza recently paid off tonight and was key in the Sens success. Spezza finished with 4 points (2-2) and was plus-4.
2nd Star: Jared Cowen – The “defensive defenseman” archetype Cowen was tagged with at the beginning of the season doesn’t seem too accurate right now. The rookie defenseman also had a four point night scoring a goal and adding three assists. He remains responsible in his own end at the same time however and was plus-4 as well while playing a team leading 28 minutes.
3rd Star: Daniel Alfredsson – The captain’s age is not showing, at least not tonight. Alfredsson finished the night with a goal and two assists for a solid three point night. He was important in all aspects of the game just like he always is. Like the others, Alfie was a plus-4 on the night.
Although the first period was maybe forgettable it was by no means bad. The Sens kept up with Pittsburgh and after trailing by 3 at that point in their last game versus the Pens, they we’re happy with the scoreless game. They came out strong at the beginning of each period and the whole team seemed to be functioning together as they should. Though the four goals doesn’t seem great the defense was much better and odd man rushes were limited. Auld was solid and came up big with a breakaway save in the third, and many more throughout the game. Finally, the first line combination problem seems to have been solved with the Greening-Spezza-Alfredsson trio. The line was fantastic and the team overall found a way to produce 6 goals even without NHL goal leader Milan Michalek. It was an overall good game from the Sens and hopefully they can hold onto that until their next game Tuesday in Buffalo. Until then, GO SENS GO!
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Tags: Alex Auld Brent Johnson Chris Kunits Daniel Alfredsson Erik Karlsson Evgeni Malkin Game Recap Jared Cowen Jason Spezza Marc Matt Niskanen Milan Michalek Nick Foligno Ottawa Senators Pens Pittsburgh Penguins Sens Sidney Crosby Zenon Konopka