The Senators caught a break when Ben Bishop was injured less than two minutes into the game, forcing the Lightning to use Anders Lindback between the pipes for the majority of the game. While no one wants to see anyone get hurt, Bishop has a career record of 3-0 against the Senators, and the fact that Lindback was in net helped the Senators to a 5-3 win.
As I mentioned before, Ben Bishop was hurt early in the game. And I can guarantee that no one in the building or watching from home wanted to see that. Tampa Lightning fans had to watch their possible (probable?) Vezina candidate go down, and Senators fans know him well from his time as a Senator. The injury was 100% avoidable. Mika Zibanejad and Nikita Kucherov were racing for the loose puck after it entered the Lightning end. Bishop dove towards the puck as Zibanejad got possession of it, throwing himself in front of Kucherov who then hit Bishop in the head with his knee and foot before crashing into the corner. Zibanejad sent a pass through the slot to Marc Methot at the point, who had a wide open net to shoot at, as Bishop hadn’t moved since being hit by Kucherov. It’s a good thing Methot was the one who took the shot and not Jared Cowen, because after the game against Columbus Tuesday night, we all know what happens when Cowen has an empty net to hit. 1-0 for Ottawa. The Senators would add to the lead with only 36 seconds remaining in the first period, and it was a beauty. Milan Michalek sent a perfect two-line pass to Jason Spezza who took the puck into the offensive zone himself (no drop pass! That’s called progress, people). Spezza followed that by making Sami Salo look silly. He cut towards the net and faked a pass while stopping which forced Salo to stop. While Salo attempted to regain his balance, Spezza skated around him and found Erik Karlsson all alone beside the net. Karlsson scored on what looked to be an impossible shot. On any other occasion, he would have had a few inches of net to shoot at from that angle , but in this case, a Lightning defenceman was covering the bottom of the net. But he’s Karlsson, so he had no problem putting that one in. 2-0 Senators after twenty minutes.
The second period did not start so well for the Senators, as the Lightning came within one. Some very sloppy play in the neutral zone and defensive zone as well as terrible positioning put the Senators in a very bad spot. Some easy passing got the puck to Alex Killorn, whose shot deflected off Milan Michalek and in. 2-1 Senators. Just over three minutes later, the Senators regained their two goal lead. Jared Cowen brought the puck back behind the Lightning net. Radko Gudas got possession of the puck, but sent it in front of the net, right to Zack Smith. Smith showed great patience on the play, taking his time to position himself in front of the net and send it in off the crossbar. 3-1 Senators. It took a little while, but the Senators extended their lead to three, twelve minutes later. Kyle Turris sent the puck to Bobby Ryan in the neutral zone. Ryan chipped the puck over Mark Barberio, to give him a partial breakaway. Victor Hedman caught up to him, and spun him around. As Ryan turned, he gave the puck to Turris who put it in. 4-1 Senators. Ryan fell into the boards awkwardly on the play, but stayed in the game. And it’s a good thing he did.
Not quite seven minutes into the third period, Turris retrieved a puck from behind the Lightning net, and sent a backhand pass to Ryan, alone in the slot. That has to be every goalie’s worst nightmare. Ryan one-timed the puck in. 5-1 Senators. Six minutes later, Tyler Johnson would bring the Lightning within three, with a shorthanded goal. That’s two shorthanded goals for Johnson against the Senators in the past two games between these two teams. Clarke MacArthur lost the puck in the neutral zone, and Karlsson had gone too far up the ice to defend, thinking that the play was headed towards the offensive zone. Johnson had a breakaway, and put it past Craig Anderson. With just under three minutes left, Hedman brought the Lightning within 2, keeping it interesting. 5-3 Senators. The Senators were stuck in their own end for two minutes, facing shot after shot. It was only a matter of time until the Lightning would put one in. That would be the last goal they scored however, as the Senators held on for a 5-3 win.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jason Spezza. He was all over the ice, creating chances almost every time he was on. Two assists for him in this one, as well as three shots. He has to continue shooting the puck as he’s got one of the best -and underused- shots in the league.
THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist, but he only had 14 minutes of ice time, while Turris had 17 and MacArthur had nearly 16. I saw the Chris Neil-Zack Smith-Colin Greening line on the ice way too often in this one, including with less than two minutes left against the Lightning’s top players. Not good.
- Marc Methot had a +/- of +4. In case you don’t know, that is really good.
- Zack Smith was 83% in the faceoff circle tonight, while Jason Spezza was 65%.
- Is Jared Cowen finally starting to play physically? My jaw literally dropped when I saw that he had 9 hits in this game. That is a very respectable number.
The Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night. That’s right, Saturday night. It’s going to be a good one.
Ottawa returns home on February 6 to take on the Sabres. See it live by getting your Ottawa Senators tickets here.