The Winnipeg Jets escaped the -43°C weather in Winnipeg, by coming to the much warmer Ottawa, rocking a nice -37°C with the wind chill. Despite their cold weather, both teams had been hot. The Jets had won their past three games, and the Senators had won back to back games for the first time since November 9th. Okay, maybe not exactly hot, but both were improving their less than impressive records.
Matt Kassian and Anthony Peluso dropped the gloves halfway through the first period. As always, every eight year old boy in attendance starts to chant ”FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT” to the horror of their parents sitting beside them, who fear that they’ve put so much money into hockey just for their son to end up like Kassian. But wait, the period got even more exciting. Mika Zibanejad (who I’m sure is nicknamed New Spezz by the rest of the team by now) scored the game’s first goal. He won the battle for the puck, beating the three Jets players around him, and got the puck back to Joe Corvo at the point. In the time that Corvo took the shot, Zibanejad moved from one side of the zone to the other, and put in the rebound. Just two minutes later, Dustin Byfuglien took a shot that would have been wide of the net, had Corvo not tipped it in. Corvo with a goal and an assist, and we’re tied at 1. Then, with less than a minute left, Zibanejad did the impossible; he set up a goal by Milan Michalek. Zibanejad took a shot on Montoya, who gave up a perfect rebound to Michalek, who had an entire half of the net wide open. 2-1 Senators going into the first intermission.
Just one goal came in the second period. Evander Kane tied the game at 2, scoring from the corner. Anderson had made the initial save on Jacob Trouba, but couldn’t stop the Kane shot from a bad angle that ended up going through his pads. Horrible memories of Anderson in November made their way into every Senators fan’s head.
The third period was much better than the second. What initially looked like Marc Methot’s fourth goal of the season gave the Senators the lead once again, but it was later given to Zack Smith. 3-2 for the Senators. Smith now has 9 goals this season. One more, and he’ll be the seventh player on the team with 10 goals. That goal was followed by another, five minutes later. Bobby Ryan used his INTENSITY to steal the puck from Keaton Ellerby, which sent the puck to Kyle Turris in an INTENSE fashion. Turris set up Clarke MacArthur with a pass to his skates (but that was just so MacArthur could look really cool by kicking the puck up to his stick – props to Good Guy Turris), who executed a perfect backhand to forehand move (NEVER use this on NHL 14 – it really pisses people off) before putting it past Montoya. 4-2 for the Senators. Then with a few minutes left, Olli Jokinen brought the Jets within one. Dustin Byfuglien took the puck down the Senators zone, his shadow covering most of the Senators, making it impossible to see where the puck was going (yes, that was a fat joke) and sent it across to Jokinen. But thanks to some great saves by Anderson, and the posts, the Senators won their third straight game.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
Mika Zibanejad was phenomenal. He really has shown that he can be great playing close to top line minutes, putting up a few points, but also playing well defensively against some of the other team’s top players.
THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- What a difference one player can make. With Chris Neil out of the lineup, Paul MacLean has put Erik Condra with Zack Smith and Colin Greening. Now when they’re on the ice for what seems like 55 minutes, I don’t mind as much.
- It seems Zibanejad has embraced the idea of taking Spezza’s role, and has found success with Michalek and Conacher. In the three games Spezza has missed, Zibanejad has 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists), and is also sporting a nice +/- of +4.
- What may be even more impressive, is Michalek being +5 since being paired with Zibanejad. He was -21 before Spezza was injured. That folks, is a major improvement. Plus, Conacher has a nice bunch of numbers with 5 points, and +3 in those past 3 games.
- It’s very obvious that Mark Stone has put a lot of effort into improving his skating.
The Senators take on the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. That’s another Saturday night game. Man, the Senators are on a roll.