If you turned off the television after two periods, you missed one heck of a finish, as the Sens posted an incredible comeback to take the game 4-3 in overtime thanks to a beautiful tip-in goal from Mike Fisher.
To be completely honest, after the second period I started typing this up with the title already stating that the Sens had lost. In my mind, the game was out of reach. The Ottawa Senators were outplayed for the first 40 minutes by the Washington Capitals, entering the third period down 3-1 and getting outshot in those two periods 25-15. Yet the Senators absolutely exploded in the third, getting two goals and putting up 18 shots in the process while holding the Caps to 3 shots. Overtime lasted just over a minute, as Chris Phillips carried the puck into the Caps' end, threw the puck on net where Mike Fisher showed great hand-eye with a spectacular tip-in.
The first goal of the game also came from the Sens, a Peter Regin goal off a feed from Jesse Winchester. Truth be told, the line of Regin, Winchester and Shannon was likely the best of the night for the Sens, especially in the first two periods. In fact, Regin and Shannon ended up promoted to the second line with Fisher by the middle of the third, where their speed and takeaways stumped the Caps' defense. Chris Neil got his fourth goal of the year, already giving him more than his total output from last year.
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Other players who had great games for the Senators include Brian Elliott, who made a handful of spectacular saves and was solid throughout the game; Filip Kuba, who quietly posted three assists, giving him 8 points in the last 3 games; and Alex Picard, who had a number of great blasts from the point during the night. Players who didn't have their best night include Jonathan Cheechoo, who helped create the Caps' third goal with a bad giveaway; and Pascal Leclaire, who left midway through the second period after getting hit in the face by a puck while sitting on the bench. He didn't return.
After first two periods, the Senators would have considered themselves lucky to come out of this game with one point. Coming out with two points has to be seen as a fluke, and something that the Senators cannot hope to repeat. Still, you have to hand it to this team for sticking in it and battling while down two goals to post such a great comeback.
Thanks to the two points from this win, the Senators are now first place in the Northeast Division.
First off, Peter's glad he got to go to this game, no matter how torturous those first two periods were. I attribute the third-period comeback to this interesting fact: In the final frame, Cheechoo was only given 2:08 TOI, Nick Foligno was only given 1:45 TOI, Brian Lee was only given 2:50 TOI, and Chris Kelly was only given 3:56 TOI. Lee and Cheechoo gift-wrapped Jay 'Voyage of the' Beagle's first NHL goal mid-way through the second, Kelly took two stupid (if perhaps undeserved) penalties, and Foligno continues to look lost so far this season. On the other hand, Fisher was given (or, more honestly, earned) 7:10 TOI, Shannon was given 6:25 TOI, Regin was given 6:10 TOI, and Kuba was given 9:19 TOI. Going into the third period, Chris Neil--who was instrumental in the comeback, not only with his tip-in goal, but also a couple big tide-turning hits, said that not everyone was on the same page through the first two periods. Coach Cory Clouston rectified that by benching those who weren't.
Although I'm a little unsure why Jesse Winchester was only given 1:33 TOI in the third; he played like a man possessed tonight, and was benched seemingly because his line played so well and served as a good spot for Fisher.
Although the first two periods looked bad, the three goals could be traced pretty cleanly to personal errors. Chris Clark's goal (which was total B.S. anyway, because it was blatantly kicked in) came after Kuba left his position to give Alex Ovechkin (who was actually quiet, for the most part, tonight) a love-tap, while Brendan Morrison's goal came after Chris Campoli decided to take a Sunday skate and completely left his man unchecked, and the aforementioned Beagle goal was just U-G-L-Y ugly. But hey, it all worked out in the end, I guess.
I'm not sure what's wrong with Jason Spezza, but he looked off tonight, too. Not just because he missed two glorious (yes, Darren, GLORIOUS) chances to end the game in overtime, but he doesn't quite look comfortable in his skin out there. Let's say Clouston had good reason he was demoted to play alongside Neil and Foligno in the second period. Again, not sure what it is, but tonight might have been his worst game of the season.
I'm sure you all know this already, but if you look up "clutch" in the Ottawa Senators Dictionary, it's spelled F-I-S-H-E-R. The guy's Ottawa's all-time leading overtime scorer with five regular-season overtime winners and he's got one playoff overtime game-winner, too (which was against the dirty Leafs, to boot). How good is this guy this year?
UPDATE: Oh yeah, I want to talk about the Capitals a bit, too. Tonight, I learned who the second-dirtiest player in the NHL is, behind only Chris Pronger: John 'The Lumberjack' Erskine. Anyone else see him completely hacking, slashing, cross-checking everyone anywhere on the ice? It was ugly. He took one minor in the game, but on the shift where he took that minor, he could probably have been assessed five or six individual penalties.
You know who might have been Washington's best player, though, aside from Semyon Varlamov? Rookie Mathieu Perrault. This kid's got skills, and I was actually pretty impressed with his strength, quickness, and defensive and offensive awareness. He's a gamer.