In a game that will never be a candidate for ESPN Classics, the Ottawa Senators overcame a tying goal from a friendly face and scored twice in the shootout to skate away with a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators.
Almost all of the action in this very defensive battle came in about a 10 minute span in the second period. Nashville outshot Ottawa 10-7 in the first period, despite Ottawa having the lone power play. It was just after the penalty to Viktor Stalberg expired that Craig Anderson was called on for his biggest stop. Stalberg picked up a loose puck in his own end and broke in down the wing alone. Joe Corvo was forced to haul him down, resulting in a penalty shot. Anderson was equal to the task in the most exciting moment of the first.
Ottawa opened the scoring in the second period after Cory Conacher dumped the puck in and chased after Nashville blueliner Mattias Ekholm. The pressure forced Ekholm to blindly cycle the puck backwards behind the net, and the puck bounced off the backboard right to Kyle Turris, who was in the right spot at the right time to deposit the puck past Marek Mazanec to give Ottawa the lead 6:23 in. Colin Greening and Eric Nystrom had a very spirited scrap at the 15 minute mark that saw both players throwing bombs and connecting with some of them. If you were scoring at home it would probably be a draw. About a minute later, Rich Clune agressively forechecked in on Jared Cowen, driving the Senators defenseman into the boards. While he was going to get a boarding call, Jason Spezza came to the defense of his player and dropped the gloves to go after the tougher Clune, who turtled. Spezza joined Clune in the box with a roughing call resulting in a 4-on-4 situation. Ryan Ellis had his point shot blocked by Mika Zibanejad, but the puck ended up right on the stick of Mike Fisher, who was standing all alone at the side of the net, and he put it home to tie the game.
The third period was largely an example of 2 teams desperate for points but not wanting to go home with nothing. Chances were hard to come by and it showed with a scoreless period.
Nashville took the play to Ottawa in overtime, using a late penalty to Marc Methot to generate 6 shots on goal to Ottawa’s none. Ottawa survived and went to the shootout.
Anderson made the first save off Craig Smith, while Mika Zibanejad put one past Mazanec. After Anderson stoned David Legwand, Spezza iced it by putting the puck through Mazanec to give Ottawa a much needed 2 points.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Mika Zibanejad was flying all night. Nothing in the stat line stood out, but he was like a man possessed at times on the forecheck, and carrying the puck. Scoring the shootout winner didn’t hurt.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Its a good thing these teams don’t meet often, because it was not an exciting game to watch. With the absence of Pekka Rinne the Predators have to play a very defensive style because they can’t score enough to play a wide open game.
- Spezza’s decision to come to the aid of Cowen worked out in the end, and it is a sign of leadership that he did so. But if the Senators had gone on to lose, I can’t help but wonder if he would have been criticized in hindsight for costing the Senators a power play and it was on that 4 on 4 that Nashville evened the score.
- The win guarantees Ottawa will come home with a winning record on the 4 game road trip, having gone 2-0-1 so far, with one to go.
- Ottawa moved within 1 point of the Rangers for the last Wild Card spot, and 2 points behind the Red Wings for the 1st wild card spot.
The Senators continue their leisurely road trip with another 2 day break before they finally get to be the ambusher instead of the ambushee. They will be in Minnesota resting for Tuesday night’s game while the Wild will be in Nashville Monday night for a divisional matchup.