It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the battered Buffalo Sabres defense and porous goaltendting allowed the Ottawa Senators to gain some offensive confidence as they built up a 4-1 lead and hung on to win the game 4-3.
Craig Anderson made 20 saves, but allowed a second period goal and a third period goal for the first time all season to let Buffalo back into the game.
Ottawa came out flying with a new set of line combinations that worked right from the get-go. A power play goal just over 8 minutes in from Erik Karlsson opened the scoring for the Senators as his wrist shot from the point found its way through traffic and past Jhonas Enroth. However, before that goal was even announced, Tyler Ennis tied the game picking up a loose rebound at the edge of the crease and backhanding it past Anderson. An offensive zone faceoff win less than three minutes later by Peter Regin led to Chris Phillips’ long wrist shot that Enroth got most of, but it trickled through and just rolled over the line to make it 2-1. Daniel Alfredsson added the third Ottawa goal three minutes later, after a strong forecheck by Mika Zibanejad who turned the puck over and found Alfredsson in the slot for a quick wrist shot that eluded Enroth. The Senators went to the locker room up by 2, having outshot Buffalo 10-7 and vastly outplayed them.
A strong forecheck by Peter Regin resulted in Ottawa’s 4th goal, as he beat Tyler Myers to a cross-corner dump in and found Chris Neil jumping off the bench and flying unchecked into the slot for another quick wrister past a surprised Enroth. Less than a minute later, Jordan Leopold answered back, tipping in a shot by Jochen Hecht to bring the Sabres within 2, but that was how the second would end.
Ottawa would manage only 5 shots in the third period as they tried to protect the two goal lead. Pominville brought Buffalo within one after Hodgson bounced one in off the Buffalo captain’s foot. It was initially waved off as the referee thought it was kicked in. After a lenghty review, it was ruled that it was not a kicking motion and the goal stood. Despite a flurry around the Ottawa net in the final minute, Buffalo could not get the equalizer. The pressure was lifted after Hodgson dragged down Kyle Turris in the neutral zone with 15 seconds left and was sent to the box. Ottawa hung on for the 4-3 win.
- Stephane Da Costa played just over 7 minutes, but it was a solid 7 minutes in his first NHL game of the season. He seemed much more assertive than the timid player who came out of college. The AHL seasoning seems to have done him some good.
- It wasn’t Anderson’s best game of the season by any stretch, but he was good when he had to be, and it was about time his team got one for him instead of the other way around.
- Mika Zibanejad was a great fit on the wing, like I have been saying for over a year. He is good on the boards and quick enough to get in on the forecheck, as he did leading up to Alfredsson’s goal.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Without Sergei Gonchar, still out with the flu, Erik Karlsson had another game over 30 minutes and was used in all situations. His goal got the ball rolling and he continues to impress with his overall game, not just offensively.
The Senators continue their 4 game homestand on Thursday night against the well-rested Carolina Hurricanes, who were already in Ottawa on Tuesday.