The Ottawa Senators entered this one desperate for a win to snap a 7 game slide. The focus was on the win, but there were also the factors of Chris Phillips‘ 1,000th game and the return of Mike Fisher, who was dealt to the Nashville Predators almost exactly one year ago.
Alex Auld got his first start of 2012 after Craig Anderson started the last 17 games. Opposing him was one of the league’s best goalies in Pekka Rinne.
The Senators scored first for only the 2nd time in the last 12 games when Jason Spezza blew a snapshot short side on Rinne just before the 5 minute mark. Ottawa looked like it would take that lead into the intermission, but after a play at the Nashville bench when it appeared that the Preds had too many men on the ice, the Predators carried on and Gabriel Bourque fired a shot that eluded Auld, and the teams went to the break all square at 1.
Phillips got his first of the season to put the Sens back on top 7:50 in when his wrist shot from the slot beat Rinne glove side. Nashville used a power play to even the score, when Patrick Hornqvist was left all alone in front and tipped Ryan Suter‘s point shot past Auld. Spezza scored his second of the game on a power play of their own, as he found a loose puck at the side of the crease and slid it home to give the Senators their third lead of the game, and this time they took that lead to the intermission.
Ottawa played a smart third period, not giving Nashville much chance to even the score. Phillips got his second of the game with less than 7 minutes left, adding an insurance goal as he knifed into the slot to bang a rebound past Rinne. It turns out that the Sens needed that goal as with the extra attacker, Martin Erat brought the Preds within one, but with only 10 seconds left the comeback would fall short.
Post Game Show
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SenShot’s Three Stars
3. Ryan Suter (NSH) – 2A , over 30 minutes for the soon to be UFA
2. Jason Spezza (OTT) - 2G, 1A to break out of a slump personally and for the team
1. Chris Phillips (OTT) - Celebrates his 1,000th game with a pair of goals and a win
Here are the game highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
Mike Fisher received a standing ovation when his tribute played during a first period commercial time-out. Unlike some other former players who begged out of town, Fisher is still beloved in Ottawa for the heart and soul manner in which he played for more than 600 games.
This was as complete an effort as the Senators have put forth in some time. Beating a class team like the Predators, and one of the league’s best goalies will give some much needed confidence.
Although he played only 13 1/2 minutes, Brian Lee‘s addition to the lineup was instrumental in the win. His skating ability is a drastic improvement over Matt Carkner, and when he teams with Phillips on the third pairing, they are no longer a pushover mobility-wise and Lee adds a different dimension.
Another addition to the lineup, Bobby Butler had 2 assists playing alongside Spezza and Michalek. It is no coincidence that Spezza’s slump ended on the same night as the Senators’ slump. As he goes, so do the Senators, more than any other player right now. Erik Karlsson might become that impactful, but right now Spezza is the straw that stirs the Senators offense.
Alex Auld’s play makes you second guess the coach’s decision to start Anderson so many times in a row. Yes, Auld did get pulled in his last start, but you need to give him a shot, and not wait almost a month and a half to give him another opportunity. He is a veteran who knows how to prepare and shake off a bad start.
The Senators got the monkey off their backs, but a win over Edmonton on Saturday is important to keep the momentum going. This win stopped the bleeding, but damage has been done over the past two weeks that will take more than one win to repair.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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