Pre- Game Skate
Good news for the Senators as All-World defenseman Erik Karlsson would suit up after being questionable heading into the warmup. Expecting a close game, as these divisional rivals don’t separate themselves very much when they meet.
After an unfortunate flub in the National Anthem by Tara Holloway that will likely be the subject of a TSN Top 10 this week, the teams got down to business.
Ottawa had the play taken to them early on, but thanks to Ben Bishop the score remained deadlocked until a short-handed break by Erik Condra put the Sens up by one. That was all the scoring, with each team enjoying one power play (well Buffalo didn’t exactly enjoy theirs). The Sabres outshot the Senators 12-7 in the opening frame.
Ottawa came out with more intensity in the second, and they put Ryan Miller in a shooting gallery. They fired 21 shots at the Sabres veteran, and Erik Karlsson was the only one to beat him, and that was from an impossible angle deep in the corner. Unfortunately, that goal was bookended by two markers from Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis, whose combined height barely equals that of the goalie they beat. Ottawa played a great period, but they ended up leaving the ice tied at 2.
Karlsson gave the Senators a boost with his second of the game, picking off an outlet pass and wristing a shot past Miller. It looked like that was going to be enough the way Bishop was playing, but then one of the flukiest goals of the season happened. Marcus Foligno got tied up with Sergei Gonchar behind the net, with Foligno staying on his feet and getting the puck. The younger Foligno tried to center the puck, but it went off Daniel Alfredsson‘s skate andover the shoulder of Bishop. Drew Stafford took a swing at the puck, but while it was going over Bishop’s shoulder, Stafford’s stick whacked Bishop in the face-mask, and the puck trickled in. I guess slashing the goaltender in the face isn’t goaltender interference, as the play was reviewed and allowed to stand.
Both teams had chances in the extra frame, and Karlsson took a tripping penalty and added an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 1:07 remaining, giving the Sabres a chance 4-on-3. Jim O’Brien did a nice job on the PK, and the shootout was needed. After Michalek, Boyes and Spezza all missed, Jason Pominville scored, meaning Daniel Alfredsson had to score to keep the Sens alive. The captain made it 5-for-5 in shootout chances this season, going 5 hole on Miller. However, the celebration was shortlived as Tyler Ennis out-deked Bishop to give the Sabres a much need second point.
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Ryan Miller, BUF – 20 saves in the second period was the difference, and the reason Buffalo was still in the game
2. Ben Bishop, OTT – Matched and exceeded Miller’s game, stealing a point for the Senators
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT – 2 goals, +1 playing over 25 minutes
Karlsson moved within 1 goal of setting yet another franchise record, matching the 19 goals by a defenseman, currently held by Steve Duchesne. He also moved back to the point-per-game pace, with 67 points in 67 games.
The more I see Rob Klinkhammer, the more I like him. Although probably more suited to a third line role, he has been solid on the Senators 2nd line in his 4 game audition. His speed on the forecheck is impressive, and he is not afraid to go to the corners in both ends of the ice.
Although losing a point is disappointing, the Senators moved 9 points clear of 9th place, and with 12 games remaining they are still in a great position to make the playoffs. They missed the chance to move within one point of first-place Boston, but with 3 games in hand for the Bruins, the will not likely be caught anyways.
Up next for the Sens is back to back divisional games against the Montreal Canadiens, Wednesday night in Montreal and back home Friday night to host the Habs.