Game Recap: DET vs OTT – Roller Coaster Anyone?

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(www.ottawasun.com)

GAME RECAP

The Ottawa Senators came home after a Tuesday night loss to the New Jersey Devils to host the well-rested Detroit Red Wings at Scotiabank Place.  Robin Lehner earned the start for the second straight night with a solid 31 save effort against the Devils.  Jarkko Ruutu and Jesse Winchester returned to the lineup for Ottawa, while Danny Cleary was in the Red Wings lineup, healed up from his broken ankle.

The burning question was how will Lehner react in his first home start, on consecutive nights?

The game couldn’t have got off to a better start for the Senators as they got an early power play, and for the second consecutive game they capitalized on the man advantage.  Alex Kovalev netted the marker  just 1:15 into the game.  This got the crowd into the game, and there was a faint hope for the team that hasn’t been seen in some time.  However, those hopes were quickly dashed by one Johan Franzen, who netted two goals 48 seconds apart to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.  You could hear the breath rush out of the building, as this Senators’ club hasn’t been equipped to deal with getting into a horse race, and the fans knew it.  A minute later, the crowd wase brought back into the game as Kovalev banked in a shot off of Peter Regin (either his stick or skate) to tie the game up a 2.  Less than 3 minutes later, Chris Campoli made it 3-2 and it had me wondering where THIS Senators team has been for the last month.  The Senators were outshot 13-11 in the period, but Lehner kept it a 3-2 game.

The first half of the second period was very evenly played, but then the bad luck that has hampered the Ottawa club struck again. An atrocious 10 second sequence by Filip Kuba resulted in Kris Draper‘s tying goal.  Moments later Nicklas Kronwall‘s point shot went through Nick Foligno‘s stick (literally) and handcuffed the  rookie goalie for a 4-3 Detroit lead.    That spelled the end of Lehner’s night, allowing 4 goals on 19 shots.  In came Brian Elliot, a move that seemed to spark the club as half a minute later Milan Michalek evened the score once again, assisted by Regin and Campoli.

The Senators began the third period shorthanded as Mike Fisher was in the box and it didn’t take long for Franzen to notch his third of the game to put the Red Wings in the lead for the third time of the game.  Twenty nine seconds later the  roller coaster ride continued as a Kovalev wrister from the blue line somehow found its way through a maze of players, deflected by Michalek and beat Jimmy Howard, knotting the game at 5.  After Detroit was awarded a 5-on-3 power play, while Campoli and Chris Phillips were sitting in the box, Franzen continued his career game and netted his 4th of the night.  Ottawa appeared to take the lead when Campoli knocked in the puck that was under Howard, but the old “intention to blow the whistle” rule was enforced and the goal was not allowed.  The Senators never really threatened after the no-goal and for 8 minutes the crowd seemed to focus more on booing the officiating than worrying about the Senators tying the game.  Franzen netted his 5th of the night into the empty net, crushing the Senators hopes for a last minute comeback.  Final score Detroit 7, Ottawa 5.

THE UP SIDE

There was a positive Alex Kovalev sighting in the first period.  His goal marked the second straight game he has bulged the twine, the first time he has had goals in consecutive games since late October..  However, his third period assist notwithstanding, he seemed to disappear after the Regin goal, so hopefully he doesn’t go into hiding for the rest of the season.

Peter Regin scored his first goal and first multi-point game since Nov. 11.  After playing a season high 18:54 on Tuesday, his ice time was down (15:16), but his contribution was up, with the goal and pair of assists.

Sergei Gonchar was was plus 3 with one assist, and seems to have found some chemistry in a 2nd pairing with Chris Campoli.  Campoli was also a positive with a goal, 2 assists, and a plus 4, but his third period hooking penalty led to the sequence that allowed Detroit to score on a 5-on-3 in the third period and take the lead for good.

THE DOWN SIDE

The Senators’ defensive zone coverage was atrocious as a team, and they were not helped out by the goaltenders who couldn’t control a rebound to save their lives.

Filip Kuba‘s two giveaways in a ten second span in the defensive zone led to Kris Draper’s goal, and he finds himself on the third pairing, one step away from another trip to the press box (AKA Clouston’s Doghouse).

THE THREE STARS

3rd Star: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit:  Two assists and a team high 22:48, he is so smooth that the 40 year old looks like he could play until he is 50.

2nd Star: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit: Assisted on 3 of Franzen’s goals, and was a plus 3 on the night.

1st Star: Johan Franzen, Detroit: Five goals. Enough said.


FINAL THOUGHT

When going over the three stars, a number of Senators deserved consideration.  Alex Kovalev, Peter Regin, Chris Campoli and Sergei Gonchar all received attention.  Then I thought about it some more and I could point out one moment for each player that was so blatant and handicapping to the Senators that it took them out of the running.  1. Kovalev completely gave up on a battle along the boards on the power play with under two minutes left, allowing the Wings to clear the zone.  2. Regin tripped over the red line while carrying the puck on a rush and snuffed out what could have been a decent scoring chance.   3. Campoli got turned inside out by Patrick Eaves and took a hooking penalty on the play that led to Franzen’s game winner.  4.  Gonchar completely bailed out on an icing and allowed Eaves to blow by him and beat the call.  This is just a sampling of how this team cannot put a complete game together, and even when things go right, something inevitably goes wrong to cancel out the good.

The Senators have a couple of days off and then embark on a 4 game road trip that begins in Long Island Saturday night,  and then they do the Western Canada tour to face the Canucks, Flames and Oilers.