The Senators continued their bad habit of making games more difficult than they have to be. What had been a 2-0 lead seemed to transform into a tie out of nowhere. But thanks to some late game heroics, the Senators managed to beat the Buffalo Sabres for the third time this season.
No matter who it is they’re facing, the Senators seem to elevate (or lower) their level of play to match their opponent. Despite the fact that they have won three of four matchups with Buffalo this season, all four games have been decided by a single goal. They beat teams like the Penguins, the Blues, and the Bruins, but barely manage to beat teams like the Sabres and Panthers. It makes about as much sense as the Matt Kassian Effect.
Not a whole lot happened in the first period, other than Senators fans realizing that Jhonas Enroth, who has one win in eighteen starts, ended up on Team Sweden’s main roster for the Olympics, and Robin Lehner did not. While The Lehner may not have the same kind of stats he had last year, they’re still better than Enroth’s numbers. Plus he’s about three feet taller.
The first goal of the game came at the three minute mark of the second period. Erik Karlsson did what Erik Karlsson does, score really nice top corner goals from the slot. But what was surprising were the moves Stephane Da Costa made before getting the puck to Karlsson. This is the part where I should throw in that meme with Fry from “Futurama” and caption it: “Not sure if impressive moves, or Buffalo’s terrible defense”. Either way, it’s 1-0 for the Senators. That’s also four points in the past five games for Da Costa.
I think Mika Zibanejad has super powers. He seems to make everyone he plays with better, including Jason Spezza, and Milan Michalek. Michalek has been struggling for the majority of the season, and Spezza’s play has been underwhelming to say the least. Though I’m not sure what it is, or why it’s happening, the chemistry between Michalek and Spezza seems to have returned along with the return of Zibanejad on their line. All I know is MacLean shouldn’t touch the lineup, because these lines are working.
The third period started just how the Senators wanted, though I doubt they planned on scoring just ten seconds into the frame. Spezza won the opening faceoff back to Eric Gryba. Gryba passed the puck up through the neutral zone, when it took a bounce off a skate, and to the middle of the offensive zone. A streaking Spezza got to the puck first, and sent it across to Michalek who just had to tap it in. 2-0 Senators. The Sabres cut the lead to one ten minutes later after a bad defensive play by the Senators. Drew Stafford got the puck behind the Senators net, and sent a weak pass through both Spezza and Zibanejad to Tyler Ennis, who had a wide open net to shoot at thanks to a badly positioned Craig Anderson. Either Spezza or Zibanejad should have gotten between Ennis and the puck, but the weak pass found its way through them. 2-1 Senators. Bad positioning would cost the Senators another goal with less than five minutes remaining. Drew Stafford got possession of the puck in front of the Senators’ net, and just had to skate three feet to an open area, and wrap it around the pad of Anderson. The game was tied at two, with just over four minutes left. It looked like the game was going to overtime, until Spezza and Michalek forced even the biggest doubters to reconsider their opinion. Spezza skated through the Buffalo end, getting through Sabres players, and found Michalek in the high slot, who rifled a shot past Enroth with only twenty-two second remaining. 3-2 Senators, final.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jason Spezza had yet another great game. He now has three goals and nine assists in his last nine games. Michalek may have scored two goals, but Spezza’s assists on both were phenomenal passes. If he can continue playing like the old Spezza, playoffs are a very real possibility.
The Senators play in their last pre-olympic game against the Bruins on Saturday afternoon. Yeah, another afternoon game.