If you like wide open hockey with lots of scoring chances, then the Ottawa Senators’ season opener against the Buffalo Sabres was for you. It was also for you if you can appreciate great goaltending, because that was on display in spades as both Ryan Miller and Craig Anderson shone in the 1-0 Ottawa win. The goalies combined to stop 8o of 81 shots, with Anderson earning the 35 save shutout.
Early power play nearly capitalized when Wiercioch’s one-timer went off the far post past Miller. The period was very special- loaded with power plays, during which neither team could capitalize. Ottawa had the better scoring chances in a wide open period that saw the Senators outshoot the Sabres 23-16, but the game remained scoreless.
The second period was more of the same, although not as much special teams play resulted in fewer shots. That didn’t mean scoring chances were down, as both goalies made some incredible saves to keep the game scoreless through 40 minutes. It was looking like 1 goal might be enough the way these goalies were playing.
Finally after more quality scoring chances followed by even better saves, Clarke MacArthur found Erik Karlsson sneaking in back-door and his one-time re-direction found the back of the net with just 1:35 remaining for what turned out to be the game winner.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
While I usually reserve this space for the Senator’s best player in the game, it is tough to argue against Miller. He faced more quality chances than Anderson, although you could give them 1 and 1A. In the end Anderson got the shutout and the win, and that is what matters, so he is the player of the game.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- This was a surprisingly free and open game, and with 81 combined shots on goal, and 80 saves it was really all about the goaltending. While Anderson might not be a surprise, Miller’s performance could be considered just that.
- Ottawa will carry some defensive confidence into Toronto, and they have to be thinking that the chances will even out and some will start going in.
- A win is a win, and points now are as valuable as points in March, and although it wasn’t easy, they got the 2 points.
- It was a good effort all-around, with nobody you could really point at as having an off-game, the puck just wasn’t going in. On most nights, that performance would see 4 or 5 goals past the netminder.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau committed a major rookie error, icing the puck with under 15 seconds left when he could have skated and extra stride. That will be dealt with, and the youngster is smart enough to not let it happen again. Luckily, it didn’t come back to haunt him.
There is no rest for the weary, but at least they don’t have far to go. The Senators line up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first real battle of Ontario this season. Both teams are undefeated and this is an early battle to keep ahead in the divison that I feel is the toughest in the league.