Game Recap: WAS @ OTT – Zack Attack

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The Ottawa Senators returned home from a shootout win over the New York Rangers to face the Washington Capitals, minus superstar Alex OvechkinCraig Anderson and Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov both made their return from injury.  Both clubs were without their respecitve captains, as Daniel Alfredsson is close to returning, while Ovechkin is using a slow period in the schedule to rest some long standing nagging injuries.

The first period was a time for Ottawa to get its legs under them having played the night before, and a rested Washington team trying to force the issue.  The early highlight was a Francis Lessard-DJ King scrap, but it was mostly a long hugging session that neither could be given the decision for.  Anderson showed no ill effects from his short holiday, but Varlamov looked very rusty, and was  having problems with his glove hand.  For the first time in recent memory, a referee reversed a penalty call as it looked like David Hale clipped Matt Hendricks near the eye.  Hale was taken to the penalty box, but after some discussion was released.  Milan Michalek also made his return to the game and had the best scoring chance of the period as his wrister bounced off Varlamov and just over the crossbar.  Both goalies were able to stop all shots directed their way as they went to the dressing rooms deadlocked at 0.

The second period was all Anderson early on, as he made spectacular save after spectacular save.  He robbed Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich multiple times in the first 7 minutes to keep Washington off the board.  Finally it was Colin Greening who broke the ice 13 minutes into the period as Jason Spezza came out from behind the net and threw it out front.  It bounced off Greening’s feet about 3 or 4 times as he drove to the net, and eventually found its way past Varlamov.  After a lengthy video replay it was deemed that he did not kick it in, and the goal stood.  That was the extent of the scoring as the period ended with Ottawa clinging to a 1-0 lead.

The third period saw what appeared to be a tired Senator team trying to cling to the lead.  However Ottawa gained an insurance marker early on as Michalek created a turnover in the corner and found Erik Condra at the right faceoff dot.  Condra’s quick wrister beat Varlamov and gave Ottawa a much needed two goal cushion.  Just past the halfway point of the period saw an ugly incident as Matt Bradley caught Patrick Weircioch with a huge hit.  Weircioch boucned into the boards in some discomfort, but Zack Smith came to the aid of his teammate and squared off with Bradley.  Smith got the best of him, as at some point he connected with a shot that opened the Caps’ forward up and he left the ice bleeding profusely beside his right eye.  It was Anderson the rest of the way, as despite being outshot 31-23, the Senators blanked the Capitals 2-0.  The shutout was the second for Anderson as a Senator and the team is 11-6 since he was acquired.

THE UP SIDE

Anderson, Anderson Anderson – In his 13 Ottawa starts, he has allowed 0 or 1 goal 9 times.

Ottawa’s faceoff men went 65% on the evening.

Not allowing a goal made sure Filip Kuba, Erik Karlsson and Chris Phillips‘ 3 league worst plus/minus totals didn’t get any worse.

THE DOWN SIDE

Patrick Weircioch needs to learn to keep his head up, as he was destroyed by Matt Bradley’s hit.  Bradley was assessed a boarding penalty on the play, but looked like a clean hit on a player not aware of where he was on the ice or who he was on with.

CHECK OUT THE GAME HIGHLIGHTS COURTESY NHL.COM

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MY THREE STARS

3rd Star – Jason Spezza, OTT – Won 14 faceoffs, had an assist and 3 shots on goal.  Easily the most dangerous offensive weapon again.

2nd Star – David Hale, OTT – Solid defensive effort, and somehow talked his way out of a penalty, which is a feat in its own right.  Was also +2 in a 2-0 win.

1st Star – Craig Anderson, OTT – 31 saves, many of the spectacular variety, for the shutout

FINAL THOUGHT

Luckily for Matt Carkner, he was not on the ice last night.  It was a rough night for guys named Matt, as Hendricks was hit in the face with 2 high sticks and a puck, while Bradley was hit in the face by repeated fists from Zack Smith.  Both shed much blood on the evening.

I appreciate that Smith jumped in to avenge his teammate, but in this case, I don’t like it.  It is getting to a point where any big hit is penalized, and whenever you make a hit, you have to look around because someone is coming to get you.  I don’t think Bradley should have received a penalty, since the hit was above the goal line and was shoulder to chest.  I didn’t see any contact with Weircioch’s head at all, and it certainly wasn’t near the boards it the danger zone.

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