There’s a term that exists in hockey that every fan both loves and hates. Puck Luck. Tonight’s game may have been the day that the term “Ice Luck” was established. In a showing that makes TimBits players look like seasoned veterans, players on both sides of the ice seemed to be unable to stay on their feet for any lengthy period of time. Through two periods there was very little to be proud of being displayed on the ice. Though Sergei Gonchar did extend his point streak to 8 games tonight, so there is at least that. The Senators wrapped up the second period still killing a penalty which was the story through the first 40. Penalty, after penalty, after penalty. It wasn’t pretty, and aside from an absolutely beautiful goal from Lubomir Visnovsky on one of the many Power Plays the Islanders found themselves on, the goaltending from the Ottawa zone wasn’t anything pretty either. Then the 3rd Period happened. If a period like this doesn’t get Paul MacLean the Jack Adams, I have no idea what will. The Senators burst out this period under the leadership of Sergei Gonchar and put up 4 goals. Also, I think this sets an Ottawa season record for most consecutive games won, that haven’t been decided by a single goal.
There was only one thing getting in the way of the Ottawa Senators tonight, and it was themselves. As the first period got under way those Pesky Sens were hemmed into their own zone setting a tone for a difficult night of defensive zone exits. Ottawa found their way to scoreboard first tonight as Big Matt Kassian tipped in a point shot from Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar, as we mentioned above, extended his point streak to 8 games tonight, and his play continued to be a shining light. Later in the period, the fresh legs of Keith Aucoin dragged Ben Bishop a little bit off his angles and trickled a shot through Bishop into the net. It was a goal I bet Bishop would like back, but the perfect momentum switch for the Islanders. From there they resumed controlling the play. They outshot Ottawa, out drew them, out checked them, and drove the flow of play heading into the second period.
As period two started, Ottawa took control of the puck with Chris Neil finding a little space on the boards by the benches and starting his way down the ice. The ice however, had different plans. Once again, with no interference, a player skipped down to the ice and the flow of play turned the other way. Josh Bailey picked up the puck, dropped to Kyle Okposo just inside the zone and broke to the net. A fake shot later and Okposo landed the puck back on Bailey’s stick who buried it behind Bishop, less than 20 seconds into the second period. The second period was a parade of penalties for the Senators, as the Penalty Kill was incredibly effective given the amount of work it was given. Visnovsky’s goal, as we mentioned above was an absolute beauty of goal. With the Sens hemmed in their zone, the tired players simply couldn’t cover all the ground they needed, and Visnovsky snuck down deep and redirected a beautiful pass. Anytime you can admire a hockey play, regardless of team, you know it was a good one.
A late penalty that carried over to the third period looked like it was at risk of setting the Sens on the same course they had been on for the first 40. Then, Paul MacLean decided he had had enough of the play so far, and without knowing for sure, we can all safely assume their were some choice words had in that dressing room. In MacLean We Trust, and the Sens came out flying for period 3.
Patrick Wiercioch made it known that he has an offensive flair tucked in his pockets, and can take a check while exhibiting said flair. A blast from the point, and a heavy check later and Wiercioch found his way to the scoresheet again, after a tip in goal from Jakob Silfverberg. The Silfver-Surfer put up his 7th goal of the season, and brought the surging Sens back to within 1.
Not too long after, Sergei Gonchar decided to show off the magic trick he’s been working on between periods. A broken stick shot from the point, what looks like a collapsing play and then…MAGIC! Zack Smith finds the puck in the confusion and plants it deep behind Evgeni Nabokov. All the sudden, we have a tie game. That puck luck that we mentioned earlier came back into play as a second Keith Aucoin goal was called off. What looked like a skate redirect which would have hampered the Sens comeback plans, ended up as a “distinct kicking motion” and the game stayed tied. While the “kicked” goal wouldn’t have been a Power Play goal, it was in the immediate aftermath of a Penalty Kill. It’s an area that after today, I imagine Paul MacLean will be hammering home some discipline into the boys.
With 1 minute sitting on the clock and the threat of OT looming, ole Magic Hands Sergei Gonchar laughed in the face of extra points and found the back of the net. Add in a Guillaume Latendresse empty net goal, and the Senators walk away with a 5-3 win. A win based solely on their play in the third period.
- Sergei Gonchar is a beast when he is on fire. His leadership on the ice was excellent tonight, and he proved that he’s still got some magic in those gloves. His impressive period of play was extended tonight. Through all 3 periods he was a bright spot, helping to keep the Sens afloat while they waffled through the first 40.
- Marc Methot was helped off the ice after taking a weird fall in his own corner. Hopefully whatever ails him doesn’t keep him out long, and he’s back soon, shutting down the opposition.
- DEFENSIVE ZONE EXITS. If there is one thing that kills this team, it is their occasional inability to exit their own zone. For lengthy stretches of time the boys in white found themselves on lock down, unable to move out into the neutral zone, and when they did, they were quickly turned away and forced back. If they are going to sustain themselves for long this season they are going to need to solve this problem.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
THE ICE! But seriously, Sergei Gonchar, and I’m only going to address him as “Ole Magic Hands” from now on, showed some great leadership and playmaking on the ice tonight. The rest of the team may not have played too fantastic through the first 40, but they all sure shone in the last 20. Ole Magic Hands ended the game with 3 points and a solid +5.
Our very own Pesky Sens settle back in to ScotiaBank Place for a game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, March 21. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM, and expect a game full of top notch play. The Sens will be looking to bounce back big time after tonight’s sloppy play.