February 14, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone (12) shoots on goal as Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) defends during the second period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Game Recap: OTT @ TBL - Spezza/Anderson Lead Sens To Victory

Pre-Game Warmup

The Ottawa Senators hope to create a gap between themselves and 9th place as they begin their road trip down south. Their first opponent is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Along for the ride are the Ottawa players’ dads. This may be a good omen, as the Sens have always earned at least a point in every game their dads have attended. Starting goalies would be Craig Anderson for Ottawa and Mathieu Garon for Tampa.

The First Period

The first period would start off perfectly for Ottawa. Just 1:04 into the period Erik Karlsson would wrist a seeing eye puck past Garon after some nice passing from Bobby Butler and Jason Spezza. The rest of the period would belong to Anderson though. He would unleash his inner Hasek, finding himself making all sorts of acrobatic saves throughout the period. His best came on a potential highlight of the night double pad stack save. Thanks to him, the Sens would leave the period up 1-0 after having been outshot 10-7.

The Second Period

Ottawa would come out of the second flying. They would be all over the Lightning and it only seemed like a matter of time before they increased their lead. However, Tampa would soon push back and dominate the Senators for over half the period. Anderson would continue his solid play though and kept the door shut. After the Sens weathered the storm, a bad interference penalty by Pavel Kubina late in the period would cost the Lightning. On the powerplay, a Spezza point shot would find its way past a screened Garon. After two, the Sens would lead 2-0.

The Third Period

The third period would be the Sens best as they controlled play from start to finish, not giving Tampa anything. The Sens would nearly increase their lead at the 11:36 mark, as Vincent Lecavalier would hook Kyle Turris on the breakaway to give him the penalty shot. Garon would stand tall though, stopping Turris to keep his team in the game. Nevertheless, Spezza would put it away just over a minute later on a beautiful goal, delaying just long enough to have an open cage. Spezza would finish the game with an empty net goal to give him the hat trick and preserve Anderson’s shutout. Sens win 4-0.

+ Pluses +

+ Kyle Turris: Didn’t register a point tonight, but led the team with 5 shots. He created numerous opportunities and had a fantastic night, but couldn’t buy himself a point.

+ Bobby Butler: Is Butler turning it around? Notched two assists tonight and is looking like the player Sens fans had hoped he would be at the start of the season.

- Minuses -

- Turnovers: Although the Sens did play a very solid road game, turnovers continue to be an issue. They were lucky Anderson was sharp early in the game and prevented the Lightning from gaining any sort of momentum.

Game Highlights

Will Post When Available

*** Senshot’s Three Stars ***

* Jason Spezza: 3G 1A – Amazing night by the assistant captain. Had a point on every Senators goal and was all over Tampa.

** Craig Anderson: 28/28 – Overshadowed by Spezza, but was the main reason the Sens preserved their lead after two periods. Definitely deserved his 2nd shutout of the year.

*** Erik Karlsson: 1G 1A - Karlsson continues to pad his stats as the defencemen scoring leader. Definitely has to be a Norris candidate at this point in the season.

Final Thoughts

The Sens have now earned 5 out of a possible 6 points in their last 3 games and have a bit of a cushion in the playoff race now. They have to keep up the good work and continue to win these games against non-playoff teams. It’s great to see Bobby Butler fitting in on the top line as it allows MacLean to roll four very solid lines. It was also nice to see the Sens’ top players performing like they’re expected to, with the top 2 lines generating numerous chances. I’m beginning to like the pairing of Brian Lee/Jared Cowen. Both are physical and have the ability to get off a good first pass out of their own zone. Also liking the fourth line of Nick Foligno/Jim O’Brien/Chris Neil, they’re definitely one of the better fourth lines Ottawa’s rolled in some time. To cap it off, incredible performance by both Anderson and Spezza. Nevertheless, Ottawa won’t have much time to celebrate as they’re back on the ice tomorrow visiting the Florida Panthers. Until next time, Go Sens Go!

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Tags: Craig Anderson Jason Spezza

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