Mar 20, 2012; Ottawa, ON, CAN; New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg (1) makes a save in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. The Devils defeated the Senators 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE

Game Recap: NJD @ OTT – “Refs You Suck!”

Pre-Game Warmup

Tonight’s match could very well have a huge impact on the Senators potential playoff matchups. The New Jersey Devils are currently in 6th place. However, an Ottawa victory tonight would bring them within a single point of New Jersey with an equal amount of games played. Ben Bishop would get the start for the Sens while Johan Hedberg would get the nod for the Devils. Jason Spezza (illness) would be a game time healthy scratch.

The First Period

The first period would be fairly even, with both teams having several strong chances. The best chance of the period would belong to Erik Condra who was awarded a penalty shot. However, an attempted five hole shot would be turned away by Hedberg. The Sens would nearly score the first goal with under a minute left but would be denied by the bodies of various Devils’ players. 0-0 after one.

The Second Period

Ottawa would get a powerplay opportunity early in the period but would be unable to capitalize. It would cost them, as later in the period Zenon Konopka would get a questionable kneeing penalty. On the ensuing powerplay, Ilya Kovalchuk would one-time his 400th goal over the shoulder of Ben Bishop. The Devils would sit on this 1-0 lead to end the period.

The Third Period

The third period would feature some very questionable refereeing. The Sens would be dealt several very sketchy calls including a delay of game on Bishop “playing” the puck in the restricted zone and a boarding call on Zack Smith on a light hit by his standards. These penalties would severly interrupt any momentum Ottawa was trying to gain for the comeback. It lead to the home crowd starting “Refs You Suck!” chants. Apparently they worked, as the Sens were awarded a 5 on 3 late in the period along with some 5 on 4 time. However, they would be unable to capitalize and the Devils would win 1-0 behind Hedberg’s shutout.

+ Pluses +

+ Physical Play: The Sens used their bodies much more than usual today, outhitting the Devils 31-20.

- Minuses -

- Crashing The Net - Ottawa failed to get any real good second chance opportunities on Hedberg. They got a lot of shots through, but nobody went for the rebounds tonight.

- Powerplay – Failed to score on the 5 on 3 and you could tell there seems to be very little confidence by the team when they get a powerplay. They need to get it working soon with playoffs approaching.

Game Highlights

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20112012,2,1092&navid=sb:highlights

*** Senshot’s Three Stars ***

* Ben Bishop: 33/34 - Allowed the lone goal in the game, but had to make the much more difficult saves than his counterpart on the other side of the rink.

** Ilya Kovalchuk: 1G 0A – Had the only goal in the game, which also turned out to be his 400th and 31st this season.

*** Johan Hedberg: 34/34 – Got the shutout. Didn’t have to make any spectacular saves, but made all the ones he should have.

Final Thoughts

A decent effort by Ottawa tonight. They had their chances and could have easily won the game on a lucky bounce, or if Condra had scored on the penalty shot in the 1st. You could tell the team desperately needs Jason Spezza. The offence was lacking creativity tonight and there just wasn’t enough depth in the lineup with Spezza out. He also makes the Sens powerplay that much more effective. Ben Bishop was solid again though and looks like that backup position will be his next season. The Sens have lost 4 of their last 5 and quickly need a bounceback win. They will get their chance in Montreal on Friday. Until next time, Go Sens Go!

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