The last time Ottawa went into Detroit, the big news was that it would be the first time they would face an old friend in Daniel Alfredsson. They cam into the game reeling, but proceeded to dismantle the Red Wings 6-1 in what most fans hoped would be a turning point of the season. Well, since that statement victory, the Senators lost their next 5 games and have gone 4-7-2 since. They had lost 3 in a row, including a couple of dismal performances, but once again the Joe proved to be the venue for a strong performance and hopefully the beginning of a tunaroud stretch of games that will get them back into the playoff race.
Clarke MacArthur had a pair of goals and Robin Lehner made 34 saves to lead the Senators to a 4-2 victory in a game that saw a lot of penalties and lots of special teams play, but no Daniel Alfredsson, even though he was honored with his own Red Wings bobblehead, handed out to fans prior to the game.
Ottawa started the parade to the penalty box just after the midway point of the first period, with Chris Neill taking a hooking penalty, and Ottawa once again gave up the first goal. Darren Helm tipped Tomas Tatar‘s shot past Lehner. That also sparked the Senators, who answered back quickly when Bobby Ryan did some nice forechecking behind the net and found MacArthur in front for a relatively easy goal. Then, the type of bounce that had previously went against them finally went for them as Chris Neil’s shot attempt was blocked by Helm, the puck then ricocheted off Brendan Smith past Jimmy Howard. Just over 2 minutes after falling behind, the Senators carried the lead into the intermission, despite being outshot 17-7 in the frame.
The second period was scoreless, but not without chances. An early and lengthy 5 on 3 for the Red Wings came up empty, thanks largely to timely saves from Lehner. Neil thanked Smith for handing him a goal in the first by using his head for a punching bag in the middle of the second in a scrap dominated by the Senator, admittedly against a player not noted for the fisticuffs.
With Jason Spezza taking a late 2nd period penalty, Mark Borowiecki joined him in the sin bin early in the third, giving the Wings another 2 man advantage. They capitalized on this one, with Jared Cowen sliding to block a Pavel Datsyuk pass across, and inadvertently deflecting the puck through Lehner’s legs for the tying goal. Then Detroit gave Ottawa a 2 man advantage, and they captialized, with Erik Karlsson feeding a one-time pass to Ryan, who despite standing on the goal line had enough of an angle to bulge the twine and put the Sens back up by one. After killing off yet another 5-on-3 with the game still in doubt, MacArthur doubled the lead on a Senators power play, putting home a rebound of a Patrick Wiercioch shot. A couple more Detroit penalties late in the game thwarted any comeback attempt and the Senators walked out of Detroit with another solid win.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Neil was a thorn in the side of the Red Wings all night. He was an enforcer, was credited with a goal, tuned up an opposing player and set the tone for his team on this night.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Jared Cowen caught Pavel Datsyuk with an elbow that went undetected late in the third. Initial replays on CBC seemed to show that it was a great dive by Datsyuk, but from the end zone camera Cowen did stick out his elbow and caught him on the chin. The reaction was still delayed, but apparently Datsyuk will not be going to Buffalo for Sunday’s game.
- It is time to run with Lehner for a few games, whether they are back to back or not. However, given the trend this season, that is unlikely to happen. Lehner has won 3 of his last 4 starts, and against Detroit he made the saves that needed to be made, at important times. That is what has been lacking from Craig Anderson‘s game, and Lehner is the better goalie at the moment.
- Wiercioch seems to be working his way out of whatever doghouse he has been in, and with 2 assists in this game, and some solid defensive play, should be a mainstay in the lineup.
The Senators have another quick turnaround, with just 19 hours rest and a trip to Carolina for a 5pm Sunday start.