It was an effort the Ottawa Senators could have used 4 weeks ago. The loss to the Flames on March 5th was the moment for many Sens followers, including myself, where the Senators’ playoff chances took the biggest hit of the season.
The Senators were outshot again and still failed to play a full 60 minutes, but for the second game in a row they did enough to come away with a win.
Ottawa opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first, with Jason Spezza making a nice feed from behind the net to Ales Hemsky in the slot. Karri Ramo made the save, but Hemsky stayed with it. He passed the puck to Erik Karlsson on the point, and his shot got through and was tipped home by Milan Michalek. The same Ottawa unit was back on the ice three minutes later, and this time you saw the bad of the line. Poor defensive zone coverage allowed Matt Stajan to knife through the middle of the zone and take a pass from behind the Ottawa net via Jiri Hudler that Stajan one-timed past Robin Lehner. Spezza created the go-ahead goal in the final minute of the period, showing tremendous patience and finding a wide open Michalek for his second of the period and a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes.
The Flames dominated early in the second, peppering about 20 shots on Lehner in the first 12 minutes of the period. Paul Byron swooped in as the trailer with 4 Senators watching the puck Mikael Backlund‘s behind the back pass into the slot was perfect for the Ottawa native and former Gatineau Olympiques forward to fire past Lehner. Another player with Ottawa connections gave the Flames their first lead of the game as Sean Monahan walked in from the side boards just after an Ottawa penalty expired and put a wrist shot that beat Lehner short side for the rookie’s 20th goal of the season.
Sometimes a fight can be a turning point in a game, and that seems to be what happened in this one. With the Senators being dominated and now trailing, Flames enforcer Kevin Westgarth threw Karlsson into the boards after he had cleared the puck around the boards. It was one of those hits that didn’t have consequences, but the shove was in the area about 5 or 6 feet away from the boards that could have been dangerous. As Westgarth was making his way back up the ice, Matt Kassian came on for a shift and made a beeline towards Westgarth and dropped the gloves with him, and got the better of his fellow pugilist. That fight, defending his star player, resulted in an instigator penalty and 10 minute misconduct, but it turned the momentum of the game around and the Senators took control.
The dynamic duo of Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur got the Senators even before the period was out. Turris picked off a pass in the neutral zone and sent MacArthur in on a 2 on 2 with Mark Stone. Turris hustled to join the play and with Stone driving the net MacArthur found Turrs coming in late and unchecked, putting the shot past Ramo to tie the game heading into the third.
Mika Zibanejad stole the puck from Ramo in the Flames corner and quickly threw it into the slot, where Jared Cowen was cruising into the Flames zone. He did a nice job to get the puck from his skate to his stick and put a weak wrist shot on goal that made a couple of bounces before slipping past Ramo who was scrambling back into his net. MacArthur and Turris worked another give and go play this time it was MacArthur redirecting a great feed from Turris to put the Senators up 2 goals with less than 8 minutes to go. The Flames only managed 6 shots in the third as the Senators shut them down and capped it off with Turris’ second of the game into an empty net for the 6-3 win, and a rare Pizza Pizza night this season.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- When the Spezza line was on the ice, things happened. Unfortunately, as many bad things as good things happened. The unit scored 2 nice goals, but also were atrocious in their own end in allowing 2 Flames goals and ending up even on the night.
- Eric Gryba was +4 and played over 20 minutes. He wasn’t that noticeable, but that is a good thing when it comes to a player like him. He did his job, had 5 hits and wasn’t victimized for any goals against.
- Cody Ceci was the healthy scratch on the blue line with Chris Phillips returning to the lineup. Colin Greening was also out with a lower body injury, which is the reason Kassian was in the lineup to begin with.
Ottawa is right back at it on Monday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.