The Ottawa Senators are about to enter a difficult stretch in their schedule that sees them play 4 games in a row against the elite of the Eastern Conference, so a win against the so-so Tampa Bay Lightning is almost a necessity if they want to come out the other side still hanging onto a playoff spot. Chris Phillips was out for his second straight game, but Sergei Gonchar was back in the lineup for the Senators.
Jason Spezza opened the scoring just past the midway point of the period, jumping on a rebound kicked out by Dwayne Roloson. Shortly after that, Matt Carkner and Adam Hall had a nice scrap near the Ottawa net, with Hall leaving the game with an upper body injury. The Senators escaped the period with a 1-0 lead, being outshot 11-7.
The middle frame was all Craig Anderson, as the Lightning carried the play. Fortunately Anderson was up to the task and held the Lightning at bay, keeping the score 1-0 until Kyle Turris deflected a Daniel Alfredsson pass behind Roloson for his first goal as a Senator. Playing with a 2 goal lead didn’t seem to stem the tide, as the Lightning still dominated the offensive zone time and doubled the Senators in terms of rubber directed at the net. Tampa fired 16 shots at Anderson, but still couldn’t buy a goal. The teams went to the locker rooms with Ottawa owning a 2-0 lead heading into Ottawa’s strongest period (at least so far this season).
Finally a mistake by Anderson allowed Tampa to get on the board, as the Ottawa netminder couldn’t handle the rebound of Matt Gilroy‘s shot. Vincent Lecavalier picked up the loose puck at the side of the crease and passed it around a prone Anderson to the top of the crease where Steven Stamkos got his stick on it and tapped it home. Both teams rang iron as Martin St. Louis‘ chip shot hit the post/crossbar elbow, and moments later Colin Greening stepped into a slapshot and nailed the crossbar. Tampa was persistent and didn’t let up, but one rush put the game out of reach. Alfredsson set up Zack Smith with a perfect pass that Smith one-timed past Roloson from the top of the circle. Tampa pulled the goaltender and Alfredsson was able to send Sens fans home happy with an empty netter to put the final nail in the Lightning coffin.
Post Game Show
Senshot’s Three Stars
3. Kyle Turris (OTT) – first goal as a Senator and added an assist.
2. Daniel Alfredsson – A three point effort for the captain, 1G, 2A
1. Craig Anderson – Carried the team while they were looking for their mojo. 35 saves.
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
Anderson stole the game in this one. He was incredibly solid through the first two periods and if not for his heroics Ottawa would have been out of this one early.
Ottawa leapfrogged the Pittsburgh Penguins for 5th place in the Eastern Conference with the win. However, the Penguins do have 3 games in hand, so the spot will most likely be short-lived. It is nice to see though, and they enter the second half of their season in full control of their destiny.
Next up for the Senators is a tough home and home with the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday at 1:00 in Philly and back home in Ottawa for a Sunday 5:00 pm game.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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