The newly formed “rookie line” did their part, being on the ice for both Senators’ goals, but three third period goals by the Sabres led to Ottawa’s 3rd straight loss. Brian Flynn and Jochen Hecht scored 12 seconds apart to break open a 2-2 game and send the Senators off to Florida clutching their sticks a little tighter as the teams below them start to inch just a little closer in the playoff race each night.
Blueliners Marc Methot and Eric Gryba did the goal-scoring for the Senators, with Methot’s goal tying the game at 1 and Gryba giving them a 2-1 lead. It was the second goal of the season for each blueliner. Ryan Miller was very good in the Buffalo net, making 35 saves while Robin Lehner was good except for the 12 second stretch that ended up deciding the game.
Apr. 5, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators center Cory Conacher (89) and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (10) battle for the puck during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Just after Ottawa killed off the first penalty of the game, Luke Adam one-timed a cross-ice feed from Mike Weber to put it high over Lehner to give Buffalo the early lead. Ottawa tied the game with about 7 & 1/2 minutes left in the period when Jakob Silfverberg carried the puck into the Sabres zone and dropped a pass to Methot, which the blueliner wired past Ryan Miller. Ottawa got a power play shortly after the goal, and Sergei Gonchar had a prime scoring chance, but his shot toward an open net was blocked by Weber.
Ottawa started quickly in the second, with some good scoring chances early on. It was a sloppy period at times, which led to some quality scoring chances. Ottawa had 2 opportunities with the man advantage, but couldn’t solve Miller. The shots after 40 minutes were 26-20 in favor of the Senators, but the score remained deadlocked at 1 apiece.
Eric Gryba did his best Top Gun impression (“hit the brakes, and he’ll fly right by”) when he delayed his wrist shot for a split second and let the shot-blocking forward clear the shooting lane and then fired it past Miller. Buffalo answered quickly when Steve Ott deflected Adam Pardy‘s point shot past Lehner. After an icing call following a penalty kill for the Senators, Lehner misplayed a shot that bounced off the back boards and got caught sliding out of position and Flynn was Johnny-on-the-spot to put the puck in the open net. Twelve seconds later it was 4-2 as Hecht’s spin-o-rama caught Lehner by surprise and simply went through the Sens goalie. Ottawa couldn’t find a way to beat Miller over the last 3 minutes and went away unhappy with the performance.
- This wasn’t exactly the performance that Lehner wanted after being anointed as a full-time NHLer. He looked bad on the Flynn and Hecht goals, and that cost the Sens the game.
- Ottawa’s hit and miss power play is in miss mode right now, and after climbing back into the top 10, have fallen back out.
- Pulling the goalie with almost 3 minutes left was a ridiculous play. That is an eternity to play without a goaltender in the net, and it showed a desperation that we haven’t really seen out of the Senators this season. That decision kind of worried me just a bit.
- Cory Conacher played just under 14 minutes and was +2, with a blocked shot. He also drew an interference penalty in the third period that the Senators could not capitalize on.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Zibanejad had two assists for the Senators, was +2 and won 67% of his faceoffs.
Ottawa will travel to the Sunshine State, playing in Sunrise against the Panthers on Sunday evening and then former teammate Ben Bishop will host the Sens in Tampa on Tuesday night.