After going through the first 14 games of the season without a goal, Jonathan Cheechoo finally put one in the back of the net in Ottawa's 4-3 shootout victory against the Edmonton Oilers. He did so after Alex Kovalev stole the puck on a good forecheck and fed it to Cheech. That's right, hard work from Kovalev and a goal from Cheechoo. Strange times, indeed. Also finally getting on the board was Ryan Shannon, who got his first point of the season on a beautiful backhand assist on a goal by Nick Foligno, which tied the game 2-2.
Coach Cory Clouston wanted his team to play a more disciplined game, and they apparently listened. The team was only shorthanded at one time during the game, and it was off a hooking penalty that Daniel Alfredsson had to take to prevent a good scoring chance. Unfortunately, the Sens never managed to get on the powerplay, despite several obvious missed calls.
The win comes despite a rather underwhelming performance from the Sens. In the first period, Ottawa was prone to far too many giveaways which is a huge part of the reason why they finished behind after one. The second period, Ottawa came out strong, but kind of gave up through most of it, giving up 15 shots while only putting up 6 of their own. The third period was a more balanced affair, with 9 shots and a goal from each side. Ottawa's goal came from Chris Neil, who stuffed the puck in the net at about the same time that he was pushed onto Edmonton goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who was livid on the play.
(more analysis and video after the jump...)
Even though he made 31 saves, Pascal Leclaire had arguably his worst game as an Ottawa Senator, knocking in the first goal with the butt end of his stick, letting Ethan Moreau slip the second goal five hole on a play he should've had, and letting in a Gilbert Brule shot from the blue line slide past him with less than five minutes left in the third period. He made some huge saves in the second period and a couple on breakaways in the third, but he really has to stop making soft goals a habit, lest he be pegged the new Gerber. Of course, it doesn't help that the Senators defense continuously gave up huge scoring opportunities to the Oilers - most notably, Alex Picard had a rough game with numerous turnovers.
Ottawa's best line on the night was likely Peter Regin, Foligno and Shannon. The three were constantly in the attacking end, creating all kinds of speed with a tenacious forecheck and strong cycle game. Shannon, especially, who I cannot see being scratched after such a wonderful performance. I fully expect Clouston to keep this trio together.
Jason Spezza had a very solid game with a number of very strong defensive plays, putting up a team high four shots and getting the game-winner in the shootout on a beautiful (and insanely wide) deke that he somehow managed to get around Deslauriers' outstretched pad. Also scoring in the shootout was Kovalev, who flipped the puck upstairs on a nifty backhand deke.
Even though this is a game that the Sens should have had in regulation, I'm just happy they pulled out with the win. Since Edmonton is a Western Conference team, giving out the extra point to them won't come back to bite them when it's playoff time, but it's not something they should continue to make a habit of.
For those who missed it, here's Cheechoo's first goal as an Ottawa Senator:
The rest of the highlight reel can be found here: