Sunday April 4th, 2012
SNET-E, Team 1200
It’s safe to say Saturday was a success for the Ottawa Senators. Taking on the Philadelphia Flyers in an afternoon match, the Sens came out strong getting three first period goals. There was a little bump in the road as they saw their lead disappear goal by goal in the second period but Sens pulled through and managed to defeat the Flyers 4-3 in a shootout to gain a very important two points.
There was another game later that day that was just as important. The Senators and Sens fans alike found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they spent the night cheering on their biggest rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs (Although it was maybe more familiar to Alfie who said before the game he “always cheers for the Leafs”). Putting themselves to use for once, Toronto took on, and defeated, the Buffalo Sabres to expand the gap between Buffalo and Ottawa to four points.
That put Ottawa’s “magic number” to 2. The magic number is any combination of Ottawa points gained, or Buffalo points lost in order for the Sens to clinch a playoff berth. With the number being at 2, it means the Senators need just one more win, or a single Buffalo loss before the end of the season. They will have their first chance of the year at clinching a spot this afternoon when they face the New York Islanders.
The Islanders, like the Senators, played just yesterday afternoon but they weren’t nearly as successful. New York fell 6-3 to the Boston Bruins on home ice despite being tied after two periods. They haven’t been playing too terribly lately though and had won three straight prior to that including two big victories over Pittsburgh. Even when they may not be getting the wins, their offense has been doing the job for them. The Islanders have 3 or more goals in nine of their last ten games and 13 goals in their most recent three. Ottawa could top that though with 18 goals in their past three games. The captain, Daniel Alfredsson, a big part in that charge picking up 8 (5-3) points in those three games, including two of the game winners. (He’s called Captain Clutch for a reason!)
Jesse Winchester, who has been sidelined with a concussion since December is finally ready to make his way back into the line-up, and will play this afternoon against the Isles. Klinkhammer will be the one coming out to make room for him. Matt Gilroy will also come back in, in place of Matt Carkner. Konopka and Butler remain healthy scratches. Craig Anderson is expected to get the nod in net. It appears John Grahame may be in net for New York but it has yet to be confirmed.
UPDATE: It will be Al Montoya in net for the Islanders. Montoya hasn’t started any of the three games versus the Sens this year but he did play nearly a full game (58 minutes) in relief of Poulin in a 6-0 loss on February 20th, allowing 4 goals on 27 shots.
Players to Watch:
Ottawa: Erik Karlsson – Currently sitting at 76 points, Karlsson is just 4 points away from hitting another incredible milestone. He had that many points the last time Sens were at Nassau Coliseum, as he picked up 2 goals and 2 assists. Karlsson has 5 points in his last three games, all coming in the form of assists.
Islanders: P.A. Parenteau – Despite his team’s 5-2 loss last game versus Ottawa, Parenteau had a two point night with one goal and one assist. He’s currently leading the Islanders in assists and is second in points, only behind Tavares. Parenteau scored two of the three Islanders goals against the Bruins in yesterday’s loss.