Wow. W.O.W. I turned on the game and watched, probably, what was the best 5 minutes of offensive zone possession the Senators have had all season. With that, the pace for the first period was set. Kyle Turris got the wrong memo before the game and thought we were all gathered to watch him school some Jersey Kids in a game of post. If that were the case, All Hail Turry. But it wasn’t, and instead, we hail the Swedish Connection, for the Sens raising their hands with a 3-2 shootout victory.
That first period was a blister of excitement. DING DING DING went the posts from the Senators sticks, poor Erik Condra couldn’t catch a break and Guillame Latendresse continued his stellar play. Chris Phillips got the scoring started in the game, proving once again that for stay at home defencemen, the Senators D Corps sure scores a lot. The first period unfolded in a frenetic pace, with long stretches of game play between whistles. It was North-South hockey at its finest. Poor Anton Volchenkov took an almost questionable hit from Mika Zibanejad, and then a shift later got smeared on the end boards by Chris Neil. Somehow after the period ended, Ottawa sat with 6 shots, New Jersey at 8.
The second period was one that started slightly different. An almost immediate on ice tilt with Zack Smith seemed to do the opposite of spurring the crowd on. The crowd reacted, but New Jersey stole the momentum and refused to give Ottawa even a sniff of it for the next 10 plus minutes of the game. Only putting 5 pucks on the net during that duration, New Jersey was held off the scoresheet, thanks to some aggressive defensive zone work. As the minutes ticked over to the back half of the game, the Senators registered their 7th shot of the game. 30 minutes, 7 shots, 3 posts. Jakob Silfverberg intercepted a D to D pass and made a rush up the ice, keeping the entire crowd on their toes, as the puck bobbled, and almost got away from him. He registered a shot, but no goal for the extremely talented youngster. Looking back at the stats, it was around the 9 minutes remaining mark that Ottawa last registered a shot in the first period, making it almost a full period of play between shots for the PeskySens. A hard streak to deal with, but the defensive nature of both teams kept the pacing moving along very nicely. While it’s not overly kosher to say amongst Senators fans, Peter Regin had a fantastic second period defensively.
With under 5 minutes remaining and a missed too many men on the ice call against New Jersey, the Devils broke their goose-egg and all the sudden we have a game. After a net scramble Andrei Loktionov planted the puck into a gaping, wide open net, tying the game at 1. The youngster has been playing pretty fantastic for the Devils since his call up from the Minor’s and with Kovalchuk’s absence it’s a prime time to step up and prove your worth. Speaking of proving your worth…cut to 20 seconds remaining in the period. Erik Condra, already have a stellar game puts a nice pass on Kyle Turris’ stick who fires a bullet down at Martin Brodeur. Brodeur, makes the initial save, but leaves a beautiful, juicy rebound for the incoming Colin Greening to streak in and bury in the back of the net. It was a scramble of a period and at times frustrating to watch the Senators get shut down, attempt after attempt trying to enter the zone, but they somehow, someway preserved their lead heading into the third period.
A shortened bench for the New Jersey Devils and another string of poor zone exits set the tone for the third period for Ottawa. The start of the third mirrored much of the play in the second, with New Jersey adopting a 1-4 playing style and stifling every Senators exit attempt. Midway through the third Marek Zidlicky outwaited a scrambling crowd in front of Ben Bishop and tied the game up at 2. With the Devils outshooting the Senators at this point 25-11. The defense first style of the Devils blocked the majority of the Senator’s offensive zone time, something the team certainly seems uncomfortable with. After the weak penalty on Sergei Gonchar at the start of the game I was expecting a closely called game, but at this point found myself wondering what exactly it would take for a second penalty to be called in this game. With a tie game on the board and the refs unwilling to call any infraction they may see, the game quickly descended into a track meet. Something I’m sure neither of the defensively geared coaches were particularly happy to see happen.
The stalemate continued into Overtime, as each team walked away with guaranteed point. Overtime was like a dream, hockey should be made of Daniel Alfredsson dancing around entire lines of opposing players. I couldn’t quite figure out why the ref’s were letting ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING slide in this game. Hooks, trips, slashes, high sticks, then I realized it was Tim Peel and it all made sense. I can support putting the whistles away, but you still call penalties, apparently that memo got mixed up.
So now…ENTER THE SHUTOUT
Alfredsson and Zibanejad slipped absolutely beautiful shots behind Martin Brodeur, as the Legend and his Protege toppled over the other Legend on the ice.
- DEFENSIVE ZONE EXITS – It was an unfortunate display during that game, but the Senators simply could not find their way out of the zone, no matter how hard they tried. The Devils are a team that shuts down the center of the ice. Yet there was very little adaptation for the Senators as they continued to try to break up the center and continually found themselves shut down at the line. When you can’t get out of your zone, you can’t get shots on net, and that happened tonight.
- Shots on net – You can’t score when you don’t shoot. So while the Senators did manage to put up some goals, only putting 13 pucks on net in regulation isn’t something Paul MacLean is going to be happy with, and I’m sure neither were the Senators. The team that puts more pucks on net generally walks away with the game, and tonight, those lack of shots on net started wearing down the Senators.
- Ben Bishop is big. Not tall. I mean he is tall, but he’s big. He comes up big, he makes big saves, and he’s a big body moving that puck behind the net. Bishop was a steadying force in the nets tonight, and with Bishop this game would have gotten out of hand and very quickly.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tonight was Ben Bishop’s night. Being a brick wall during the shootout is what solidifies this player of the game. Bishop was on his head and held the Senators in this game far after they deserved to be.
The Senators continue their homestand against the visiting New York Rangers. It’s a nice two day rest for the Senators, a rare and mythical occurrence during this shortened season. The Rangers are sitting on 8th in the Conference and 9 points behind Ottawa, a win here really starts to space out the Eastern playoff race.