The final result is all that matters in the long run, and despite blowing a 2-0 lead a late goal from the captain allowed Ottawa to finish their 4 game road trip with a win and a 2-1-1 record.
It was by no means a clinic by the Senators, who got a pair of goals from Stephane Da Costa, his first two of the season, and 34 saves from Craig Anderson to keep the Senators within striking distance of the wild card spots.
Ottawa came out storming early on, reminiscent of their dominant game against Montreal a couple of weeks ago, while the Blue Jackets looked like a team that had played the night before. They were buzzing around the offensive end, and it eventually led to the first power play of the game. During the waning moments of that man advantage, Milan Michalek carried the puck over the line and then acted like a fullback, leaving the puck but drawing attention from 2 or 3 Blue Jackets, allowing Da Costa to sweep in behind him, pick up the loose puck and swat it to the back of the net through a crowd. That was the lone goal of the frame, as a couple of late power plays for the Blue Jackets allowed them to outshoot the Senators 13-11.
Da Costa doubled the lead just over 6 minutes into the second, taking a great pass from Jason Spezza behind the net and quickly putting it past Curtis McElhinney into the Columbus net for what would be the only even strength goal of the game. While on a power play, Columbus got on the board after a nifty between the legs pass from Matt Calvert to a streaking Cam Atkinson coming down the slot. Erik Karlsson slid to block it, but neither he nor Anderson had a chance.
The Blue Jackets tallied again with the man advantage in the first half of the third, with James Wisniewski teeing off a couple of blasts from the point. The second one found the far side past a screened Anderson, who had a face full of Calvert’s derriere and in looking around him to find the puck, looked the wrong way. The lead that Ottawa had built courtesy Da Costa had vanished and just like the Montreal game referenced earlier, the Senators were on their heels a little bit. However, Jason Spezza was Johnny on the spot with 5 minutes left and the Senators on the power play again. Marc Methot‘s point shot was stopped, Colin Greening‘s rebound shot was turned away, but the second rebound laid in the slot and Spezza shoved it home to give the Senators the lead once again. This time they would not relinquish it and despite being outshot in every period and by a total of 36-28.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
I am not going to give it to a single player, but this time around it is the line of Zack Smith, Coling Greening and Chris Neil. Their play, especially early on, was draining on the Blue Jackets and they spent most of their time on the forecheck and the cycle. The fatigue they put on the Blue Jackets was a big reason why they had a couple of defensive lapses that led to Ottawa goals as the night went on.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Karlsson’s assist on the first Da Costa goal gave him 50 points on the season, moving him 3 points ahead of Duncan Keith for the NHL lead among defensemen.
- As maligned as Spezza has been, he had a good game, setting up one and scoring the winner himself.
- Most people, inlcuding myself, don’t know much about Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert, but if his play against Ottawa is any indication, he could be the equal of pest Brendan Gallager. He is a smaller player but isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. Both Blue Jackets goals were a direct result of him being at the top of the crease making life difficult for Anderson on the penalty kill.
- Anderson played a solid game and I cannot fault him for either Blue Jackets goal. I have been critical of his recent play, and although I would like to see a string of games like this from him before I change my mind, this was a good start.
Ottawa returns home for a quick one gamer against the Lightning on Thursday before heading out on the road for 3 more, a tough trip including Toronto on Hockey Night In Canada, Pittsburgh and then west to St. Louis.