Pre Game Warmup
The pre-game warmup for this one was all too eventful, as during line drills, Sergei Gonchar was struck on the back of the head with a puck dumped in by Kyle Turris. Gonchar was held out of the game and Brian Lee was inserted in his place.
As expected, Jhonas Enroth and Craig Anderson were the starting goalies for this all important divisional matchup that had playoff placement implcations as the calendar turns from 2011 to 2012.
The First Period
In a harbinger of things to come, Erik Condra opened the game by cranking one off the cross bar. With Jason Spezza off on a questionable tripping call, Buffalo got on the board first as Anderson made an awkward save on Jordan Leopold‘s point shot, and took himself out of the play. Brad Boyes was johnny on the spot and tucked the rebound into the yawning cage. The rest of the period was dominated by the Senators, but all they had to show for it was the pinging of three more shots off the iron. Despite outshooting Buffalo 14-9, they trailed by 1 after 20 minutes.
The Second Period
Early in the second it was an unlikely hero who tied it up as Turris spotted Matt Carkner jumping in from the point, and the rugged defenseman put it off the post and in for his first tally of the season. Buffalo didn’t waste much time getting that one back, as Paul Gaustad (with his butt in the face of Anderson) deflected home another Leopold point shot to restore the Sabres’ lead. However, it was tough guy night for the Senators as Chris Neil was sprung on a breakaway by Condra. Neil showed a nice set of hands to fake forehand and put the backhander past Enroth to knot the game back up. Erik Karlsson made the defensive play of the game as he caught Jason Pominville on a breakaway, despite having to make up about a 20 foot deficit to overtake the Sabres captain and knock the puck to the corner. This turned into a chippy affair with a lot of action after the whistle, as you might expect from a pair of rivals meeting for the third time in just over 3 weeks. The period ended with no more scoring, and the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked at 2 through 2 periods.
The Third Period
The chippiness continued in the third period, as neither team wanted to give up any ground on the ice. Ottawa continued to take most of the play, and Bobby Bulter‘s wrist shot that rang off the post was the closest either team came to breaking the tie in regulation, meaning the fans at First Niagara Centre were in for some bonus hockey.
It was a relatively tight affair in overtime, with only 5 total shots in the 5 minute period. Neither team was able to put one in, so a shootout was required.
Even the shootout required overtime, as Boyes and Spezza scored in the second round. Pominville scored in the third round, meaning Daniel Alfredsson needed to score for the Sens to stay alive. Initially Enroth stopped the shot, but his momentum carried him into the net, along with the puck to keep the Senators hopes alive. In the fifth round, Anderson stopped Drew Stafford setting the stage for Butler’s game winner, a nice deke that allowed him to lift the forehander over Enroth.
Post Game Show
Senshot’s 3 stars
3. Craig Anderson – Solid effort, but would have liked to handle the first goal a little better
2. Jhonas Enroth – Aided tremendously by his best friends – the goal posts, but made 44 saves
1. Erik Condra – Had his hand in both Ottawa goals and was a force on the PK
Check out the game highlights from NHL.com
What I Saw
- Jason Spezza struggled mightily in this one. He seemed very frustrated and took 2 minor penalties, including the one where Buffalo got on the board in the first period. He was also brutal in the faceoff circle, winning only 28% of his draws.
- It wasn’t only Spezza who struggled in the faceoff circle, as the Senators as a team were 33%.
- There seemed to be no set lineup for this one, as the lines were altered on almost a shift by shift basis. Some of it might be due to the number of penalties, or maybe just Paul MacLean trying new combinations. Either way, it was very inconsistent.
- Filip Kuba played a game high 33:24 , but left in the final minute of OT favoring his arm or shoulder. Hopefully it isn’t a serious injury and Kuba can be back on Monday.
- The Senators are in for a very busy January, with 14 games and hosting the All-Star game mixed in. This was a huge 2 points, although giving Buffalo a point wasn’t an ideal situation.
- The win moved the Senators into a tie for 6th with New Jersey (their next opponent) and the Winnipeg Jets, who defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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