I had to PVR the game and when I turned on the television to start catching up, I accidentally saw the game score scroll across the bottom. Damn, I hate that. But hey, at least I wasn’t going to be watching a loss. With all of the Senators injuries and the various storylines that have evolved this season I’ve enjoyed watching just about every game. So, onto this afternoon’s Ottawa Senators match-up against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Apparently, playing a full 60 minutes is important. I watched last year’s Senators earn their nicknames as the cardiac kids with their third period comeback theatrics. That was fun. What I didn’t appreciate was the flip side of the coin. 4-0 after 20 minutes, still 4-0 after 40 minutes; I know the final score, the third period must have been big for Tampa. So we’re 50 minutes in and the score’s still 4-0. Hold onto your socks, the final 10 minutes are going to be interesting.
One of the most dominant first periods of hockey the Senators have played in recent memory. There was something for everyone. For the most part, everything worth talking about happened in the first period. They dominated the opposition and outshot them 15 to 8. Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg and Guillaume Latendresse were together again and look to be developing some rather effective chemistry as they collected 2 goals and 2 assists between them. Other firsts… Eric Gryba’s first career NHL goal from Turris and Methot. Gryba was left alone to walk into the high slot unopposed and blasted a one-timer slap shot past Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon. Matt “the nuclear deterrent” Kassian had his first fight in a Senator’s uniform. He took on BJ Crombeen, the NHL’s most active fighter this season; he had 12 majors and probably would like to have avoided his 13th as it was a lopsided victory for Kassian. Latendresse got his 3rd goal of the season proving that shooting pucks toward the net is always a good idea. The assists to Silfverberg and Zibanejad used pretty much all 200 feet of ice as both of Latendresse’s feet were behind the goal line when the light came on. That ended Garon’s time in net as he was replaced by Cedrick Desjardins. The Senators weren’t done. Sergei Gonchar’s point scoring streak was extended to 10 games when he assisted on Ottawa’s 4th goal, a power play marker from Alfredsson. His 10th assist is a franchise record. I missed the hit that Chris Neil saw and reacted to after Patrick Wiercioch was apparently run over by Richard Panik. Neil jumped in to deliver a few punches and let the opposition know that liberties won’t be taken on our players without consequences.
It started with a power play for Tampa Bay but I was surprised to see that they outshot the Senators 14 to 7 by the end of the second period. While I watched as they improved their game and met some of the challenges that Ottawa gave them, I didn’t think that they had dominated as much as the shot count may have indicated. The flow of the game seemed to be back and forth to me but Tampa never really had any sustained attack and Lehner was not called upon to stop any plays that appeared to be dangerous. Ottawa was on cruise control and kept Tampa Bay shooting from the outside. If you want to see a near perfect hip check you should check out Methot’s hit on Crombeen. Crombeen took exception to it and went after Methot. I’m not sure why players want to fight after clean hits. Methot grabbed him and strong-armed into the boards until officials broke it up.
The third period didn’t get interesting until Tampa got on the scoreboard with exactly 8 minutes and 23 seconds remaining in the game. They had been pretty much dormant up until that time. There were no real threats from the NHL’s third leading point producer Steven Stamkos. Ditto for the NHL’s fourth leading scorer Martin St. Louis. Instead, their latest AHL call up, Tyler Johnson got on the scoreboard with his 2nd and 3rd career NHL goals before Teddy Purcell hammered home his 7th of the season to make it 4-3. With 1.59 seconds left, the Tampa Bay Lightning did their impression of the cardiac kids and almost succeeded. Daniel Alfredsson found the back of Tampa’s empty net with 21 seconds remaining on the clock to lockdown the Senator’s 17th win of the season.
- As mentioned above Sergei Gonchar stretched his point streak to 10 games, a franchise record. Fans breathed a sigh of relief when he was pronounced good to go after taking the pregame skate.
- Jakob Silfverberg continues to impress with his stellar play. The points we’ve all been waiting to see are finally coming. He’s had six points in his last six games.
- Robin Lehner continues to make it look easy. He couldn’t be faulted on any of the goals that got past him. He looks to be putting any concerns about inconsistency to rest with his strong play game after game. His 29 saves brings his season totals to 3-1-4.
- On Matt Kassian – I wasn’t sure how I felt about the Senator’s latest acquisition but after watching several games where the physical play could have gotten out of hand, I can see the affect that he has on his team and I can agree that his role is a useful one.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
While it was a tough call between Daniel Alfredsson or Marc Methot, I chose Alfredsson. Methot was key to the first two goals of the game and shutting down the opposition’s best players is always tough but Alfredsson’s goal was the game winner and his insurance goal managed to save a victory that was slipping away in the closing moments of the game.
The Ottawa Senators will host the New Jersey Devils on Monday March 25th. The puck drops at 7.30 at ScotiaBank Place at 7.30 pm. This will be the third game of the Senator’s 5 game home stand.