Sitting a single win (or Buffalo loss) in the last 4 games, the Ottawa Senators walked into Long Island to face the New York Islanders, without a couple of their top guns. About a half hour before puck drop, it was announced that Jason Spezza (birth of his 2nd child) and Daniel Alfredsson (flu) would not be playing. Despite many thinking it was an April Fool’s Day joke, the game started without #’s 11 and 19. This means that Jesse Winchester, Bobby Butler and Rob Klinkhammer were in up front, while on the blue line the two Matts switched it up, with Gilroy entering the lineup and Carkner exiting.
The Islanders got on the board first, when John Tavares set up in Gretzky’s office, and banked a pass out front and in off Mark Streit’s skate and past Anderson. Shortly after, Chris Neil squared off with rookie Michael Haley, and after a spirited but one-sided tilt Neil scored win and the takedown. Kyle Turris evened the score with under 4 minutes left, carrying the puck into the Isles zone, having his first shot blocked but firing the second off the cross-bar and in.
The power play struck early, with John Tavares off, Milan Michalek made an incredible behind the back pass to Sergei Gonchar who was all alone for the go-ahead goal. The goal came moments after Craig Anderson stoned Michael Grabner on a short-handed breakaway, and that sequence was probably the turning point of the game. Less than thee minutes later, Ottawa scored again with Michalek’s backhander past a “fish out of water” Al Montoya. Again, Ottawa scored when Montoya again lost track of the puck off a Winchester shot, and it was laying there for an easy Nick Foligno tap-in to make it a 4-1 game.
While for the most part the Sens were in protection mode, they did manage to add to the lead on Turris’ 2nd goal (and 4th point) of the game when his 3rd crack from in close finally found the net. The Islanders didn’t have an answer, or even a crack at scoring to cut into the lead. Final score, Ottawa 5, NYI 1.
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SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Erik Karlsson – 1A, led all players with over 23 minutes played
2. Milan Michalek – 1G, 2A, +2
1. Kyle Turris, OTT – 2G, 2A
No doubt there were some stressful feelings leading up to the puck drop starting without 2 of their top 3 forwards, but kudos to Turris and Michalek for carrying the load. For Turris it shows that he has the ability to be a top-6 forward, and he just has to bear down and show it more often when he gets the chance.
Karlsson’s assist leaves him two points shy of the 80 point plateau.
This win clinches the playoff spot that very few thought they could heading into the season. There is still a chance they can avoid Boston and New York in the first round, as they are within striking distance of the Devils, who they play next Saturday in the final game of the season.