After waiting almost nine months to see the Ottawa Senators in action, fans would have to be satisfied watching Saturday’s 4-1 season opening win in Winnipeg. While not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, the Senators were able to overcome a couple of lengthy stretches of lackadaisical play to shut the Jets down effectively in the third period to come away with a season-opening win.
Craig Anderson was the beneficiary of a couple of posts early on as the Jets put the Senators on their heels in the first five minutes. Chris Neil’s boarding penalty proved costly as Dustin Byfuglien fired a rocket from the point that beat Anderson clean to break the ice. With just under 4 minutes left in the first, Milan Michalek knifed behind the Jets defense and fired a loose puck past Ondrej Pavelec.
Ottawa struggled over the first half of the second, not getting their first shot until almost the halfway point of the period. They used a power play to gain some momentum, and although they didn’t score with the man advantage they did re-introduce themselves to Pavelec. Shortly after the power play expired, Chris Neil gave the Sens their first lead of the season when he won a battle in front of the net and tucked home the rebound from Erik Karlsson’s point shot.
Ottawa played a near perfect third period, not allowing Winnipeg to get anything going offensively. Karlsson continued a standout game by one-timing a Gonchar feed top corner to extend the lead to two. Kyle Turris iced the game with just over two minutes left, breaking down the right wing and wristing a shot to the bottom corner off Byfuglien shinpad.
Karlsson seems determined to prove that the Norris was not a fluke, and whether by design or necessity, he was put in situations to succeed, and that included a regular turn killing penalties.
It was a solid all-around effort from the goaltender out, as Anderson was solid and the team in front him provided a ton of support.
Neither team was obviously in January mid-season form, and it will take some games to get the offensive juices flowing, but this was a good start.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Erik Karlsson – A goal, and two assists with 6 shots on goal and a game high 25:35 of ice time. Included in that time was 3:03 on the penalty kill, which is a new segment of his game, after averaging just 33 seconds per game on the PK last season.
Ottawa returns home to play their home opener against the Florida Panthers in front of a sold out crowd at Scotiabank Place on Monday night.