Playing without Daniel Alfredsson, who was a late scratch with an illness, the Ottawa Senators soldiered on against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It wasn’t a pretty game by any means, as there were plenty of chances created from turnovers by both teams. However, the goaltending was pretty solid as the teams battled to a 1-1 draw regulation and Ottawa’s first OT game of the season.
Thirteen and a half minutes into the first, James Neal broke the ice on a rocket one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Evgeni Malkin, a shot that Anderson had no chance to stop. Ottawa got in penalty trouble for the second straight fist period, having to kill off 4 Pittsburgh opportunities, but the penalty killing was very effective.
An interesting second period began with some uncharacteristic play. With Ottawa on the power play, Erik Karlsson bobbled the puck at the Penguin blue line, and Matt Cooke took advantage and broke in alone on Anderson. Cooke tried to deke forehand, but Anderson bailed out his Swedish defenseman by kicking out the pad and making the stop to keep it a one goal game. After some sloppy play on both sides, Jason Spezza picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone. Spezza was stopped by Fleury, but Colin Greening potted the rebound to square the game at 1. Anderson again was called on to bail Karlsson out after the reigning Norris Trophy winner turned the puck over to Crosby in the Ottawa end. Anderson cut down the angle and Crosby hit him in the chest. The score remained tied after 40 minutes, so it became a 20 minute game (with an indication that there might be more than that required).
With just over 6 minutes left, Ottawa gave up a 3 on 1 when Speazza missed the net far side on a shot/pass to a pinching Karlsson and then the covering forward whiffed trying to hold it in. Fortunately, Malkin rang it off the post behind Anderson. That was the best chance for either team to win it, although Karlsson had two big shots late, but fired high both times.
With a point already in the bank, you would expect to explosive teams to freewheel it up, but that really didn’t happen. Off to the shootout.
Michalek was stopped by Fleury (0-0)
Neal powered one through Anderson (1-0 PIT)
Spezza went top corner past Fleury (1-1)
Crosby snuck one over Anderson’s glove (2-1 PIT)
Kyle Turris snuck a shot under Fleury, just getting through (2-2)
Malkin beat Anderson 5 hole to clinch the extra point (3-2 PIT)
- It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Karlsson also had a touch of the same sickness that kept Alfredsson out of the lineup. He didn’t have his usual burst of speed and struggled at times. Even so, he still had a pretty good game. Just not a Norris Trophy type game.
- Anderson’s performance (33 saves) showed that he is for real, and that his start wasn’t just a case of playing easy teams. Not a goalie in the world would have stopped Neal’s one-timer.
- The 3-4 and 5-6 pairings were shuffled in addition to the forward lines. Sergei Gonchar was paired with Mark Borowiecki while Chris Phillips was teamed with Andre Benoit. I think the reasoning was probably to give them a veteran presence on each pair, but is also allowed the coaching staff to even out the minutes for the two older players who looked sluggish in the second half of Friday’s game in Tampa.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
With 33 saves on 34 shots, Anderson was solid, and didn’t show any signs of pressure getting to him or nervousness staring across at Crosby, Malkin and Neal.
The Senators face Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in the first part of back to back home games this Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully the illness Daniel Alfredsson is suffering from is not spreading around the Ottawa room and that he will be ready to go on Tuesday.