The Ottawa Senators took on the Winnipeg Jets for the fourth and final time this season. The Sens went 2-1-0 against the Jets so far this season but were shutout 2-0 in the most recent. That came back in January however and a lot has changed since then. Ottawa is coming off an impressive 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, which was the Pens only regulation loss of March so far. Only two points ahead of 9th place, Ottawa was desperate for a win to hold onto their playoff spot.
Jets got the first good chance off a defense miscue but Sens got lucky as they missed the net entirely. Ottawa then had a chance to get the first lead with a power play opportunity but the best two chances there ended up in favour of Winnipeg. jets then had a defensive lapse of their own, turning it over at the blueline allowing Spezza to skate straight down the middle and get a shot on net, but he was stopped by Pavelec. Jets got their first chance with the man advantage later in the period when Gonchar was sent to the box for tripping. The Ottawa penalty kill was great last game though and continued tonight, killing off the two minutes easily. It seemed as though they would be going into intermission tied at 0-0 but Ottawa had other plans. After a pass from Karlsson, Spezza skated in wide and just threw a shot on net. It was a bad angle but it was enough to create trouble for Pavelec, who left a rebound in the crease that Neil fired past him with 25 seconds left in the opening frame.
The stars of the first period were certainly the goaltenders. With numerous odd-man rushes for both teams, the goalies had to make not only a many saves, but many big saves. Pavelec only surrendered the one goal on ten chances while Anderson was a perfect 13 for 13.
Sens got to work fast in the second knowing well a one goal lead is never safe. Just two minutes in an unsuspecting Kaspars Daugavins made it 2-0 with his first goal since February 15th. The 2 goal cushion didn’t last long though as Meittenen converted for the Jets on the power play just a minute later. Not more than a few minutes after that, Wellwood fired one past Anderson to tie the game. Sens weren’t done yet. With just 3 minutes left Kyle Turris picked up his second in a many games, and he seems to be getting hot at just the right time. Jets were just as resilent however, and they weren’t done yet either. Winnipeg came back quickly with Meittenen picking up his second of the night only twenty seconds after the Turris goal. The teams headed into the second intermission tied at 3, Winnipeg with a 30-21 advantage in shots.
Jets had a great chance to take the lead early in the third as Kaspars Daugavins’ hook on a breakaway was deemed penalty shot worthy. Craig Anderson thwarted the opportunity though and kept the game tied at three. Sens built off that energy, and began putting pressure on the Jets. It didn’t take long for Sens to get one through. It was Daniel Alfredsson blasting one past Pavelec to make it 4-3. Jets were getting lots of pressure on Anderson, desperately trying to tie it up, as they were fighting for their playoff lives. Sens did a good job holding them off as long as they could but eventually Jets found the back of the net. Anderson, the team, and Sens fans alike were not happy with the goal, and though it went to video review, the call on the ice stood, despite Anderson being interfered with. Just like that the game was tied at 4. The anger of the questionable goal seemed to spark a new energy for the Sens however. Winnipeg couldn’t hold them down as Ottawa came back and retook their lead just 24 seconds later. Who else but Daniel Alfredsson to get the clutch goal in a game like this! His second of the night gave Sens a 5-4 lead and was the game-winner. With just two minutes left, Jets tried to come back but an empty netter from Michalek sealed the Sens win. The final score saw Sens defeat the Jets 6-4 despite being outshot 48-35.
*** SenShot’s Three Stars ***
1. Daniel Alfredsson - Here’s a broken record for Sens fans: Daniel Alfredsson scored a game changing goal to help sens get the win. This time Alfie actually had two big goals in the third, one being the game winner. It’s exactly what’s earned him the nickname “Captain Clutch”.
2. Erik Karlsson - For some reason, it’s still being debated whether or not Karlsson is Norris worthy. If tonight didn’t convince you that he is, I don’t know what will. He was his typical self offensively picking up three assists giving him 57 on the year. But maybe even more impressive was the fact he was a plus-5, +2 more than any other player from either team. All this while logging a team-high 25 minutes.
3. Craig Anderson - False conclusions may be drawn about a goaltender when there are four goals against him in a game, but Anderson played well tonight. He made 44 saves, including a save on a penalty shot, and had absolutely no chance on the fourth goal where he was interfered with. Anderson was especially good in the first stopping all 13 shots keeping the Sens in it before the offense really got going.
Sens took their time getting into it and it wasn’t always pretty but they did what they needed to do. The Sens offense that recently went through a dry spell of just 4 goals in 4 games now has 14 in their past 2. They’re at the top of their game and it couldn’t be at a better time as they look to clinch a playoff berth. Today gave them an important two points to hold onto 7th place, with Buffalo and Washington both just 4 points behind. The team has a four day break before their next game and will have the entire day off of practice and everything tomorrow to rest. Sens have back to back afternoon games this Saturday/Sunday on the road in Philadelphia and New York (Islanders), and then only 3 more on the season.